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Latest Snowpack Survey Points to 3rd Straight Year of CA Drought



Tuesday's survey at Phillips Station near Lake Tahoe showed 35 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 16 inches. (DWR File)
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California’s snowpack is 63% of the average for March 1 and both residents and businesses should expect a third straight year of drought, state officials said Tuesday.

“With only one month left in California’s wet season and no major storms in the forecast, Californians should plan for a third year of drought conditions,” said state Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth.

“A significantly below-average snowpack combined with already low reservoir levels make it critical that all Californians step up and conserve water every day to help the state meet the challenges of severe drought.”

The latest snowpack readings from throughout the state are available at this link.

Newsom Asks for 15% Water Savings

Nemeth’s remarks followed the state’s third snow survey of the season at Phillips Station near Lake Tahoe. After early winter storms drenched the state, January and February were the third driest in state history, according to DWR. Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking all Californians to cut back water use at least 15% compared to 2020 levels

Tuesday’s manual survey at Phillips Station recorded 35 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 16 inches. Snow water equivalent is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast.

In December, heavy rain and snow had left the state with 160% of its average snow water content for the date. The February reading fell to 92%.

How to Check Water Conditions in Real Time

Current water conditions are available in real time at California Water Watch, a new website launched by DWR. This website will help Californians see their local hydrological conditions, forecasts, and water conditions down to their address or their local watershed.


Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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