California snow pack falls well below normal
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The snow pack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains fell sharply in the last four weeks as parched soil from last year's dry weather absorbed large amounts of the state's water supply, California officials said on Thursday.
In April, snow depth and water content declined markedly to 67 percent of normal levels, the California Department of Water Resources said in its final snow survey of the season.
Melted snow powers hydroelectric generators and flows into reservoirs, supplying water to state residents, so officials monitor the snow pack closely.
March and April were the driest in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains since the state started measuring the snow pack in 1921, the department said.
In a statement, California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the survey's findings were cause for concern following two years of below-average rainfall in the state.
"Today's snow survey findings further underscore the need for action now," Schwarzenegger said, urging lawmakers to adopt his proposal to address the state's water crisis through conservation, increased groundwater storage and investments in water infrastructure.
"The longer we wait, the worse our situation becomes," Schwarzenegger said.
Soil parched by last year's extremely dry weather has absorbed much of the water, the department said. Water runoff into streams and reservoirs is between 55 percent to 65 percent of normal.
(Reporting by Nichola Groom)