The California Department of Water Resources said the latest measurements of the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada indicate that the Golden State faces a year of drought.
The latest measurements from the department’s electronic snow survey stations indicate the statewide snowpack was only 59% of average on April 1, the date when it is typically deepest.
There was little snow on the ground on that date at the Phillips Station, the location near Lake Tahoe that is often featured in official photos.
“While there is some snow on the ground today at Phillips Station, there is no doubt California is in a critically dry year,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the state department, on Thursday.
But she emphasized that “state agencies, water suppliers and Californians are more prepared than ever to adapt to dry conditions and meet the challenges that may be ahead.”
The San Diego County Water Authority has said it has ample supplies for five straight dry years.
So far this year is the third driest on record, with California’s major reservoirs at just 50 percent of overall capacity.
On average, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as it melts in the spring and early summer.