Sierra Nevada Snowpack Hits Biggest Level in Nearly 30 Years

The statewide Sierra Nevada snowpack — the source of nearly one-third of California’s water supply — is at its highest level since 1995, boosting hopes that an end to the drought is near, but also raising concerns that a few warm spring storms could melt it too early and trigger major flooding.

Not since Toy Story packed movie theaters, Steve Young led the 49ers to their fifth Super Bowl win, and gasoline cost $1.28 a gallon has there been so much snow in California’s most famous mountain range at the end of January.

Opinion: California Was Just Inundated With Much-needed Water. Too Bad We Didn’t Save Much of It

The recent series of atmospheric rivers dumped enough rain and snow on Northern California to give us hope that the end of the drought may be near. California’s Department of Water Resources is reporting that the state’s snow water equivalent, or how much water the snowpack is expected to yield, is almost double what we expect at this time of year. According to department officials, it’s “the best start to our snowpack in over a decade.”

Flowers, Flooding and Drought: What Recent Drenching Means for San Diego Region

Flowers are blooming in the desert. Flooding and sewage spills have largely receded. Dams continue to collect runoff. But the drought is still far from over.

San Diego recently weathered a monthlong series of storms that also blanketed much of the West with badly needed snow. Still, the possibility of state-mandated water restrictions looms over the region this year, especially if dry conditions return to the Sierra Nevada.

Residents and local officials in San Diego are now taking stock of the situation as the deluges appear to be giving way to sunnier skies. While urban areas are still riddled with potholes and beach closures, rains have revived parched natural landscapes.

Is the Drought Over? Reflections on California’s Recent Flood-Drought Combo

Early January was an unusually wild ride of atmospheric rivers. Nine sizable systems produced a train of storms beginning about New Years and lasting for several weeks across almost all of California. After three years of drought, the storms reminded us that California has flood problems similar in magnitude to its drought problems, and that floods and droughts can occur in synchrony.

More Rain, Snow in California From Ninth in Series of Storms

The ninth atmospheric river in a three-week series of major winter storms was churning through California on Monday, leaving mountain driving dangerous and the flooding risk high near swollen rivers even as the sun came out in some areas.

Heavy snow fell across the Sierra Nevada and the National Weather Service discouraged travel. Interstate 80, a key highway from the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe ski resorts, reopened with chain requirements after periodic weekend closures because of whiteout conditions.

Opinion: Storms Tell California to Upgrade its Plumbing

The rain and snow storms that have pummeled California for weeks have taken nearly two dozen lives and caused billions of dollars in damages to public and private property.

The flip side, however, is that they dropped immense amounts of water on a state that has suffered through severe drought for several years. At one point this month, an astonishing 160,000 cubic feet of water – 1.2 million gallons – was flowing through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta every second. That’s enough water to fill a reservoir the size of Folsom Lake, about 1 million acre-feet, in three days and doesn’t count water falling on other regions, such as Southern California.

California Death Toll Reaches 20 as Last of Atmospheric River Storms Finally Ends

The parade of atmospheric rivers that pounded California for three weeks finally faded on Monday, enabling the state to begin lengthy repairs to roads and levees as the White House announced President Biden planned to survey the damage.

Why Amospheric Rivers Could Become More Frequent as World Transitions out of La Niña

As critical areas of the Pacific Ocean warm and the world marches out of a La Niña towards neutral status, North America might be in store for changes in weather patterns not seen in several years.

A rare triple-dip La Niña has been in place since 2020 and was one of the main driving forces behind megadroughts, severe weather outbreaks and hurricanes.

Opinion: The Healthy Snowpack is an Upside of Recent Storms. But the Drought is Far From Over

The powerful storms that have pounded California for the past two weeks have disrupted life statewide, leaving at least 19 dead, causing widespread flooding and closing or destroying iconic piers from Ocean Beach to Capitola. The precipitation has also done some good. Wednesday, the Sierra Nevada snowpack — which provides about 30 percent of the state’s water supply — was 226 percent of normal, the highest in at least 20 years. With two more storms looming, the snowpack is expected to keep growing ahead of an important April 1 measurement date for forecasters when it tends to peak.

California Suddenly Has So Much Snow. But Even This Extraordinary Bounty Isn’t Enough

At the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Laboratory in Donner Pass on Wednesday, snow was piled so high that lead scientist Andrew Schwartz no longer needed stairs to exit the second floor.

“We just walk directly out onto the snow!” Schwartz said. The nearly 11 feet of snow surrounding the lab was the deepest he’d seen so far this year.