Friday, April 27, 2007

Low Snow Pack

The case for drought is increasing—though one year of dry conditions is not drought inducing, it should remind us of what can occur (more sequential dry years) that we should worry about—and the case for additional water storage should also be increasing, and one hopes public leadership responds.

Snowpack at 19-year low
Some Bay Area water districts call for immediate conservation -- no shortages expected this year because reservoirs are nearly full
Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer
Thursday, April 26, 2007

The water content of the Sierra Nevada snowpack is at its lowest level in nearly 20 years -- less than 40 percent of usual for this time of year, state water officials say.

The size of the snowpack -- the source for most of the state's drinking water -- has already prompted calls for immediate conservation. And orders to curtail use of water could become mandatory this summer or next year if 2008 is also dry.

Usually the biggest accumulation of snow occurs around April 1. But this year the snowpack didn't grow after the first week in March.

Elissa Lynn, senior meteorologist at the California Department of Water Resources, called the 2007 snowfall "pretty dismal.''

"It was a very dry March, the sixth driest on record. There was a lot less snow falling and a lot more snow melting,'' she said.

But the state water agency isn't expecting shortages this summer because the reservoirs are relatively full after three years of wet weather.

"The impacts on a water supply don't become evident until you have multiple dry years. A single dry year is not particularly a big deal,'' said Frank Gehrke, chief of snow surveys for the Department of Water Resources.