With fewer storms this time of year, the April snowpack measurements are considered the most critical indicators of the water supply for the summer. In the Northern Sierra, it’s actually the same as a month ago, at 62-percent of normal. That’s also better than a year ago, when it was 57-percent. But it’s also the second straight season of below-average precipitation, prompting more drought fears. Chris Orrock, with the State Department of Water Resources, says water suppliers and customers are more prepared, compared to the previous one.
Meanwhile, the news is not so good for reservoir storage. It’s only 53-percent of average at Oroville Dam, compared to 85-percent last year at this time. It’s just 65-percent at Shasta Dam, compared to 98-percent a year ago. But Orrock also recalls a snowpack at the peak of the last drought, in April of 2015, of just five-percent of normal.
Meanwhile, with the largest storms this season being mostly cold, and producing more snow, rainfall totals are below 50-percent of average for Northern California.