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Sierra Snowpack Is Exceptional, but Last Year’s Memories Haunt California

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Traffic moves slowly through the snowy conditions along Interstate 80 near Truckee, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (Caltrans via AP)
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The Sierra snowpack vital to supplying water for California’s residents, businesses, and farms is off to a strong start.

Recent storms bringing rain to the Valley and other parts of the state are also dumping snow on the Sierra Nevada.

According to the state Department of Water Resources, the northern Sierra snowpack is 155% of normal through Monday.

Meanwhile, the central Sierra and southern Sierra snowpacks are 166% and 216% of normal, respectively.

What does this mean for the California drought?

The experts say that the drought is far from over, but the precipitation is encouraging.

For many Californians, the most recent water year — which ran from July 2021 to June 2022 — provides a grim reminder of how fickle Mother Nature can be.

October 2021 brought record-breaking rains that flooded highways, caused mudslides, and cut power in the Golden State. And, December’s heavy storms took the snowpack to 160% of average. But California went on to endure its third straight year of drought.

Phillips Station snow survey

State officials found only traces of snow during the April 1, 2021, snowpack survey at the Sierra Nevada’s Phillips Station. (File/State DWR/Kenneth James)

What’s Next in Valley Weather?

According to the National Weather Service in Hanford, we’ll see light rains through Tuesday followed by drier, colder conditions before there’s a 20% chance of rain on Thursday night.

Friday and Saturday could bring showers as well, so keep your umbrellas and rain slickers handy.

Patchy fog is expected Tuesday night and morning.

Monday’s snow level was pegged at an elevation of 5,000 feet, and visitors to Yosemite National Park should prepare for snow.

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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