Dry Conditions Continue Even as Recent Winter Storms Bring Much-Needed Snow


DWR staff conducts February 2021 Snow Survey at Phillips Station

DWR conducts the February 2021 manual snow survey at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. DWR/2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today conducted the second manual snow survey of the season at Phillips Station. The manual survey recorded 63 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 17 inches, which is 93 percent of average for this location. The SWE measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast.

“The recent blast of winter weather was a welcome sight, but it was not enough to offset this winter’s dry start,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “While there is still a chance we will see additional storms in the coming weeks, the Department and other state agencies are preparing for the potential for a second consecutive year of dry conditions.”

Statewide snow survey measurements reflect those dry conditions. Measurements from DWR’s electronic snow survey stations indicate that statewide the snowpack’s SWE is 12.5 inches, or 70 percent of the February 3 average, and 45 percent of the April 1 average. April 1 is typically when California’s snowpack is the deepest and has the highest SWE.

Fall 2020 was extremely dry, especially in the Sierra Nevada, and follows last year’s below-average snow and precipitation. With only a couple months remaining in California’s traditional wet season, Californians should look at ways to reduce water use at home. Each individual act of conservation makes a difference over time. Visit SaveOurWater.com to learn easy ways to save water every day.


Additional Resources

California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program Story Map

Video of today’s Phillips survey (Expected between 2-3 p.m.)

Digital photos of today’s Phillips survey (Expected between 2-3 p.m.)

Snowpack readings (View readings for current regional snowpack and historical snowpack comparison)

CDEC precipitation data (View current charts for the Northern Sierra 8-station index for updated rainfall readings in the critical northern portion of the state, as well as the San Joaquin 5-station index and Tulare Basin 6-station index.)




Chris Orrock, Information Officer, Public Affairs, Department of Water Resources

916-480-5414 | Chris.Orrock@water.ca.gov