Californians depend upon diminished snow for water Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, checks the depth of the snowpack as he conducts the third manual snow survey of the season, at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, Calif., Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Californians depend upon diminished snow for water
Lexile

An unwelcome three-week winter dry spell left the California snowpack at just 83 percent of average. That level is a setback for the state as it tries to break out of record drought. The level was noted by state snow surveyors on March 1.
 
In an icy meadow in California's central Sierra Nevada, state surveyor Frank Gehrke plunged poles into snowbanks. He measured how much snow was lost to a February with record warm temperatures. And, there was little rain.
 
Californians depend on snowfall for a third of their water. They had hoped this year's strong El Nino system would deliver heavy snow and rain.
 
After a wet December and January, however, sunshine and blue skies returned. They brought temperatures in the 90s to Southern California last month.
 
The year had a "very good start. And then ... February just did not come through," Gehrke said.
 
Gehrke's measuring site showed snowpack at 105 percent of average. That is compared to 130 percent at the same spot the month before.
 
Statewide, snowpack was at 83 percent of normal, officials said.
 
California last year marked its driest four-year spell on record. It led Gov. Jerry Brown last April to order mandatory 25 percent water conservation for cities and towns. The conservation order remains in effect.
 
Officials say bringing the state out of drought would require snowpack at 150 percent of average. The state would need it by April 1.
 
December, January and February typically are the wettest months in California. However, late spring storm patterns dubbed "March Miracles" helped ease dry spells in 1991 and 1995. This is according to state Department of Water Resources officials.
 
Californians can still hope for such a miracle the first week of March. That is when changing weather patterns promise to send a series of storms over the state.
 
Forecasters expect as much as 7 inches of rain in Northern California in the coming days. Heavy snow is expected in the mountains.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Southern California had temperatures in the 90s. How can this region depend upon snow for water?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (4)
  • joey0111-byo
    4/21/2016 - 07:31 p.m.

    We can depend upon this region, because we are in a drought. We need to wish for rain and get snow from mountains.

  • william1108-yyca
    4/21/2016 - 09:28 p.m.

    I already sort of know that we are in a drought. But I am sure that this article was from maybe a year or so ago. I hope that we don't lose a lot of water or else we will have to use a little water everyday and maybe not have enough water to have a shower or flush the toilet.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    6/20/2016 - 04:14 p.m.

    The people who are living in California are depending on diminished snow for water because California is still on a serious drought which people are depending on things that can make water and stop the drought. The people are very dependent on water so that the drought would soon stop and they would be able to get back to normal. The El-Nino weather had been getting in a lot of rain to California which people would need more rain than ever. The drought would be stop soon when California had been able to get more rain and snow for the water they they need.
    Critical Thinking Question: Southern California had temperatures in the 90s. How can this region depend upon snow for water?
    Answer: I know how this region depend upon snow for water is by getting water from rivers that flow from the snow mountains to areas that need water.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    7/17/2016 - 11:39 p.m.

    Reading this article probably gave some people a news flash, as they picture the all-time warm weather of the West Coast. California receives snow too and needs it to get by during the dry summer months. Hopefully the weather is being kind to Californians and the land they love.

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