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California Drought: Snowpack Falls Below Average, Which Means Another Down Year for Hydroelectricity

At the start of the year, it looked like California would finally get some relief from a persistent drought, with reservoirs poised to help contribute an abundant amount of hydroelectricity to the state’s grid come summertime. But those hopes are fading like a mirage.

“Realistically, as far as our dams and our hydroelectric production, it’s looking like we could be in a similar spot as last summer, potentially even worse by the end of the summer,” said Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist that the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab. “It’s not looking great, to be honest.”

Snow-Water Equivalent Still Down Despite Recent Storms

Though the last couple of weekends have seen wet weather, it hasn’t been enough to keep up with the yearly average in time for summer in California. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is tested regularly by employees of the California Department of Water Resources, has yielded some grim results so far in 2020 in terms of snow-water equivalent.