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Official: California Likely Facing Critically Dry Year

Assisted by Anthony Burdock, left, Sean de Guzman, chief of snow surveys for ...

Photo by Randall Benton / AP

Above: Assisted by Anthony Burdock, left, Sean de Guzman, chief of snow surveys for the California Department of Water Resources, checks the depth of the snowpack during the second snow survey of the season at Phillips Station near Echo Summit, Calif., Tuesday, March. 2, 2021.

California will likely face a critically dry year with much less runoff from the Sierra Nevada snowpack than normal and reservoirs that already are showing the impact of winter precipitation that is well below average, state water authorities said Tuesday.

The state Department of Water Resources’ latest survey via a network of electronic stations found the water content of the overall snowpack was 61% of the March 2 average and 54 percent of the average on April 1, when it is historically at its maximum.

Surveys of the Sierra snowpack, which normally supplies about 30% of California’s water, are a key element of the department’s water supply forecast. December, January and February are typically the wettest part of the “water year,” which starts each Oct. 1.

“As California closes out the fifth consecutive dry month of our water year, absent a series of strong storms in March or April we are going to end with a critically dry year on the heels of last year’s dry conditions,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a statement.

“With back-to-back dry years, water efficiency and drought preparedness are more important than ever for communities, agriculture and the environment,” Nemeth said.

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