Snow surveys show grim picture

mmsa1_7_14The California Department of Water Resources has conducted its first snow survey of the winter. Officials said they found “more bare ground than snow.”

According to a news release from the DWR, “Manual and electronic readings record the snowpack’s statewide water content at about 20% of average for this time of year.” DWR Director Mark Cowin said that the State is “fully mobilized” to take every action possible “to ease the effects of dry weather on farms, homes and businesses as we face a possible third consecutive dry year.” He calls on all of us to make water conservation a daily habit.

According to DWR, the snowpack readings now and in 2012 are the driest on record for this time of year. The northern California mountains show 11% of normal for now. The central Sierra shows 21% and the southern Sierra, 30% of normal for this time of year.

Rainfall at the end of 2013 was also low, according to DWR. They report that downtown Los Angeles which has averaged nearly 15 inches of rain since 1906, ended the year with 3.4 inches.

DWR weather watchers point out that it is still early in the season and this winter could still turn out wet. DWR does have a drought management team which reportedly will make sure areas of critical need get water transfers. They have also vowed to monitor water supply impacts in small rural communities whose groundwater sources are stressed by prolonged dry conditions. It’s unclear what the State will do for these areas, which define the Eastern Sierra.

Meanwhile, the Department of Water and Power has begun to measure the snowpack. Their website keeps track of the water content of Mammoth Pass as a Hallmark of the snow year, and DWP provides snow and precipitation measurements in all areas of Inyo and Mono.

Mammoth Pass snowpack water content measures 3.3 inches as of December 19th. That number is well below last year and also below the long-term average. Right now, the measurements sit slightly above the driest snowpack on record in 1976-77.

Snow pillow measurements show Mammoth Pass at 13% of normal to date. Rock Creek, 68%; South Lake, 49%; Big Pine Creek, 25%; and Cottonwood Lakes at 122% of normal to date.

On the precipitation side of things, Long Valley sits at 9% of normal to date. Bishop, 20%; Big Pine, 50%; Independence, 81%; South Haiwee at 15% and Los Angeles at 21% of normal to date.

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Numbers
Numbers
8 years ago

As this drought gets worse it will be interesting to see the fate of the water purveyors. Obviously, customers will be asked/forced to use less. But less water use equals less money coming in. Could be a lot less money. I assume public water providers like mammoth community can’t just… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Numbers

Public water utilities number one are required by law to be non profit. Second, since they are public agencies you get to elect their directors and their meetings are subject to all of the Brown Act requirements of a city council or board of supervisors. They frequenly have appointed commitees… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

“Public water utilities number one are required by law to be non profit” Oh come on DT. There’s no actually profit however employees get paid well, Utilities have the best of the best equipment, radios, phone systems, scata system, so operating cost are very expensive. Every water utiliity out there… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Empire.. I should have spell check that one. 🙂

ferdinand lopez
ferdinand lopez
8 years ago

if the snowpack were normal,youd have to bitch about something else

JeremiahJoseph
JeremiahJoseph
8 years ago

You mean like complaining about how people complain to much? LOL

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

Lots of wise words here. But next year or the year after, we’ll have a near normal snowpack and precipitation and all those wise words will be forgotten because people have short memories and no foresight. Smart people would have been saving water when we had 500 inch winters. But… Read more »

Jarred Sorenson
Jarred Sorenson
8 years ago

Conservation is not enough. Ask the civilizations that were destroyed by drought (Mayans, Anasazi, ancient Greeks, etc.) and they would tell you to move…to Sun Valley, Idaho, for example.

FYI
FYI
8 years ago

I think southern cal needs to do away with the Green Lawn for now!

TBone
TBone
8 years ago

What measures are SoCal communities taking to mitigate a water shortage? It seems late enough in the game now that those communities should be actively working on emergency conservation measures.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  TBone

Water use per day per person in LA is far lower than the state average, about 125 gallons per person per day. In Mono County the average is over 400 gallons per person per day. Maybe Mono County ought to do something about their own profligate water use. LA has… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

agriculture = food and jobs, do you like to eat DT? “Water use per day per person in LA is far lower than the state average, about 125 gallons per person per day.” I think that is because they are packed into apartments like rats down there. 13 million people… Read more »

Deseert Tortoise
Deseert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

I love the uninformed exaggeration that one finds on the internet. The population of Los Angeles, the city, is 3.8 million. The population of the county is just a touch under 10 million, keeping in mind that that includes the 3.8 million living within the city of Los Angeles. Where… Read more »

JeremiahJoseph
JeremiahJoseph
8 years ago

True that Desert! Wasted in the old agriculture ways, there is answers to that (vertical Hydroponics), but people just don’t listen and/or the established powers that contribute to the old ways of agriculture want to keep their bottom line, and they will do what it takes to hang on to… Read more »

JeremiahJoseph
JeremiahJoseph
8 years ago

Yes very Grim 🙁 Putting Climate Change aside for a bit and lets try and acknowledge another driving force here, I want to point out a big part of our daily lives, that thing called free market capitalism, market perception can not view the our earth as anything but resource… Read more »