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KPBS Drought Tracker Update: Weekend Storms Deliver Substantial Snow

DATA SOURCES: Rainfall data comes from a weighted average of 96 weather stations throughout the state. Snowpack data represents the average of three different multi-station measures of the northern, central and southern Sierra snowpack. Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers, through the California Nevada Applications Program RISA and the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, helped compile the data.

Storms that caused flooding in Northern California over the weekend also contributed to major growth in the Sierra snowpack.

Storms that caused flooding in Northern California over the weekend also contributed to major growth in the Sierra snowpack. An update to the KPBS Drought Tracker shows the current snowpack eclipsing levels seen on this day in previous years of the state's prolonged drought.

Monday morning's average Sierra snowpack measurement was 56 percent of the way toward a normal April 1 measurement. That's higher than normal for this time of year, and it's a rapid increase from the 25 percent reading measured one week ago.

"There's been quite a substantial uptick in the amount of snow in the Sierra Nevada due to these storms in the past seven days," said Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate researcher David Pierce, who helped compile data for the KPBS Drought Tracker.

This wet season's relatively warm weather had been keeping snowpack levels below normal, even as statewide rainfall ran ahead of the curve. But this past weekend's storms helped Sierra snow levels start to catch up.

Rain levels continue to exceed totals recorded at this point in previous drought years. As of Monday morning, statewide rainfall totals since October 1 have already reached 78 percent of what normally falls by April 1.

Similar to last year's wet season, rain has been disproportionately hitting northern California while leaving Southern parts of the state comparatively dry. Pierce notes that while statewide precipitation levels are above normal, San Diego has been receiving relatively typical amounts of rain for this time of year.

And Pierce says even this welcome increase in statewide rain and snow isn't enough to make any declarations about long-term impacts on California's drought.

"I always feel a little bit of caution talking about one winter overcoming a severe drought of many years," he said.

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