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Substantial Snowpack In Manual Survey Shows California Moving From Drought To Deluge

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for th...

Photo by Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Above: Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, checks the snowpack depth during the manual snow survey at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, Calif., March 30, 2017.

Results of the manual snow survey Thursday have Californians wondering when California Governor Jerry Brown will declare the drought over.

RELATED: KPBS Drought Tracker Update: Some Sierra Snow Melts Away

Two years ago, Governor Brown stood on bare ground near Echo Summit during the April manual snow survey.

“We’re in an historic drought and that demands unprecedented action," he said. "It’s for that reason I’m issuing executive order mandating substantial water reduction across our state.”

But now, Frank Gehrke, the state’s chief snow surveyor, stands in falling snow at Echo Summit and measures nearly 8 feet of snowpack.

“That represents 183 percent of its long-term average. So clearly even though we had that hiatus of storms in March, we’ve still got a very substantial snowpack,” says Gehrke.

Statewide snow readings show water content in the snow is 164 percent of normal for this time of year.

“Especially for recreation it’s going to be a rather different picture than people have experienced since 2011 really,” says Gehrke.

He says skiers can expect a long season and whitewater rafters will have lots of cold and fast-moving water.


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