California January snows bring rosy water outlook
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The snow pack in the Sierra Mountains of California jumped to 113 percent of normal from 60 percent only four weeks ago due to heavy January snows, the California Department of Water Resources said in its second snow survey of the season issued Thursday.
"January is typically the wettest month of the water year," said CDWR hydrology branch chief Arthur Hinojosa
"This month's storms have been an excellent shot in the arm to the state's water supply. January's precipitation has bolstered the snow pack and made up for a subpar December. Season to date is just above average and 65 percent of the April 1 average peak."
April 1 is a key date because that is normally when snow pack is highest and the best indicator of the spring and summer water situation, said Don Strickland, a spokesman for the CDWR.
April 1, 2007 showed that California's snowpack was only 40 percent of normal.
Ample snowpack at the end of January does not necessarily mean that summer water supplies will also be ample, Strickland said.
"Things could change dramatically should the storms come through and it warms up," Strickland said, adding that in past years the end-of-January snow count has been high only to drop by April.
"If the snows continue to come through as they have been for the past few weeks, we should be in great shape for the summer," said Strickland.
Snow water is an important factor for determining the coming year's water supply for hydroelectric generation, as well as the reservoir level for the state and local water supply. California derives more than 17 percent of its power from hydroelectric generation, according to the California Energy Commission.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall, editing by Matthew Lewis)