Authorities set out Friday to conduct the final winter snowfall measurement, south of Lake Tahoe at Phillips Station, where the snow depth was just 2.5 inches. The average April 1 snowfall in the area was 66.5 inches, officials said.
Most importantly, 2.5 inches of snow contains only 1 inch of water – 4% lower than the average for April 1, says Sean de Guzman, an engineer with the California Department of Water Resources.
“During that time, California received only half the amount of rainfall recorded compared to 2013, which became a record dry calendar year,” De Guzman said.
How this winter started on the West Coast is a big nod.
Meteorologists were delighted to see a pile of snow that month in December. More than 17 feet of snow fell near Toner Pass in Sierra Nevada, breaking decades-old records.
Government officials are preparing to tackle water shortages this summer. California Gov. Kevin Newsom issued an executive order Monday calling on local water agencies to implement their own safety plans and urging residents to self-monitor water use. He ordered the state Water Board to consider banning the flow of water to ornamental grasses in businesses and institutions, but according to a release from his office, residential lawns or green areas should not be included in schools and parks.
“While we have made historic investments to protect our communities, economy and ecosystems from the worst drought in the West, it is clear that we still need to do more,” Newsom said.
Also on March 18, as the state enters its third year of drought, the Department of Water Resources announced a 10% reduction in the amount of water to be shared with municipalities.
The government initially intended to provide 15% water to various areas through the state water scheme, but will now reduce it to 5%. The State Water Project is a state-owned “multi-purpose water storage and distribution system” that shares water supply to various cities and districts on its website.
“We are experiencing the whiplash of climate change in real time with extreme fluctuations between wet and dry conditions,” department director Carla Nemet said in a statement at the time. “We continue to work to balance the needs of endangered species, the protection of water supply and the supply of water to millions of Californians.”
CNN’s Stella Chan and Rachel Ramirez contributed to the report.
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