California Snowpack at Just 59% of Average After Dry Winter

California snow measurement (Randall Benton / Associated Press)
Randall Benton / Associated Press

California officials are warning that drought could loom in the state’s future after the annual April 1 measurement showed that the depth of the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains is only 59% of the average — the second straight dry year.

The snowpack is crucial for state water supplies. Winter rains at the coast become snow in the mountains, and the steady snowmelt feeds California’s rivers, reservoirs, and aqueducts. Low levels of snow can mean water restrictions lie ahead.

The Sacramento Bee reported:


California water officials on Thursday reported the statewide snowpack is just 59% of average for this time of year as the state continues to experience one of the driest years on record.

It’s the second straight year of low numbers, after the Department of Water Resources recorded a reading of 53% on April 1 a year ago. The back-to-back low measurements could mean the return of summer drought conditions and water-use restrictions for the first time since 2016.

The April 1 survey is typically the most important of the year, when the snowpack is the deepest and has the highest snow-water content. It also marks the end of the wet season for California and is a key indicator for water supply.


The silver lining: while the 2020-21 winter was dry, the few storms that swept through were unusually cold, so more of their precipitation fell as snow than might otherwise be expected, leaving more water in natural storage to use throughout the year.

As Breitbart News reported last month, Californians are already being told to expect to prepare water conservation measures. A formal drought can only be declared by Gov. Gavin Newsom, which may be less likely during a possible recall election.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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