Snow surveyors confirmed that water content in California’s mountain snowpack is far below normal for this time of year.

Manual and electronic readings record the snowpack’s statewide water content at only ­­­37 percent of normal for the date.  That is just 23 percent of the average April 1 reading, when the snowpack normally is at its peak before the spring melt.

“So far, we just haven’t received a decent number of winter storms,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin.  “We have good reservoir storage thanks to wet conditions last year, but we also need more rain and snow this winter.”

Results of the manual readings by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) off Highway 50 near Echo Summit are as follows:



Snow Depth

Water Content

% of Long Term Average


7,600 feet

14.8  inches

3.6 inches


Phillips Station

6,800 feet

15.6 inches

3.8  inches


Lyons Creek

6,700 feet

21.8  inches

5.8  inches


Tamarack Flat

6,500 feet

15.2 inches

4.8  inches


The Lyons Creek and Alpha snow measurements were the second lowest on record (going back to 1958 for Lyons Creek, and to 1966 for Alpha).  Water content in the snowpack at Lyons Creek today is 5.8 inches, compared with the record low of 0 inches in 1963.   Water content in the snowpack at Alpha today is 3.6 inches, compared with the record low of 2.9 inches in 1976.    Today’s snowpack at Tamarack Flat contains 4.8 inches of water, the fourth lowest on record going back to 1946.  The record low at Tamarack Flat was 0 inches in 1963.  Today’s water content at the Phillips course was 3.8 inches,  ­­­­­second lowest in records dating back to 1946. The record low at Phillips was 0 inches in 1963.   

For a broader comparison of current conditions to previous years, dry and wet, see DWR’s new “Water Conditions” webpage:

Electronic readings indicate that water content in the northern mountains is 41 percent of normal for the date and 26 percent of the April 1 seasonal average.  Electronic readings for the central Sierra snowpack are 32 percent of normal for the date and 20 percent of the April 1 average.  The numbers for the southern Sierra are 42 percent of average for the date and 25 percent of the April 1 average.