"Hyper-Emergency" Over As California Readies For 'Big Melt' After Record Snowpack

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Apr 06, 2023 - 12:40 AM

Dear California, we have good news and bad news...

The good news is that after suffering severe drought conditions on and off since 2006, the constant torrent of "atmospheric rivers" moistened the soil just enough to lift over half (55%) the Golden State is now completely out of drought with less than 2% of the state still in Severe Drought or worse...

But there's more good news, according to the state’s water data, reservoirs that were once depleted are now filling up with many over 80 percent full - and groundwater reserves have received a significant boost...

And finally, on the good news side of the ledger, officials said this week that California's stormy winter has resulted in the deepest snowpack in more than 70 years.

The snowpack is so deep that it currently contains roughly 30 million acre-feet of water — or more water than Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, according to an LA Times analysis of snow sensor data.

State officials announced the record snowpack Monday at their fourth snow survey of the season at Phillips Station near South Lake Tahoe.

The statewide snowpack on Monday was 237% of normal for the date - the deepest on record since the state's network of snow sensors was established in the mid-1980s.

It is also deeper than previous records of 227% set in 1983 and 224% set in 1969, and tied with the record of 237% set in 1952, measured using earlier tools and baselines.

Those were the only other years with April snowpack above 200%, said Sean de Guzman, manager of snow surveys for the Department of Water Resources.

With some snow sensors yet to report, "it's looking like this year's statewide snowpack will probably most likely be either the first- or second- biggest snowpack on record dating back to 1950," De Guzman said.

Snowpack in the southern Sierra was even deeper, measuring a record 306% of normal for the date.

And that brings us to the bad news (or more good news if you prefer not to be terrified by fearmongery), the snow water equivalent of all that - or the amount of water contained in the snow - is 61.1 inches, and as Yahoo News reports...

"All of that water is going to have to come downhill sooner rather than later," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA.

Incoming warmer weather is "good news for a lot of folks who need it, but it does mean that the 'big melt' is on the way."

So, do not let your fearful guard down just yet California.

Due to the excessive snowpack, the National Weather Service warned March 16 that approximately 15 million Californians are at risk for some type of flooding in their communities, including 1.4 million for major flooding and another 6.4 million may be hit moderately.

But, of course, now is no time to celebrate Mother Nature's bounteous offerings of wet stuff - we must still be afraid, as Gregory Pierce, co-director of the Luskin Center for Innovation at UCLA, warns:

"This precipitation is great, and it does mean we can let up a little bit on some of the most radical things we were doing," adding that "we bought ourselves some more time, so we don’t need to be in that hyper-emergency, but we’re always in a drought."

“We can’t let up at all on the medium- and long-term [efforts], because this is going to be an anomalously positive year,” he said.

Well, at least the "hyper-emergency" is over, eh?