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Sierra Snowpack Below Normal; Driest Year on Record

Feb 28, 2013

Sierra snowpack this winter is below normal, according to a recent snow survey
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

January and February are the driest on record for the northern Sierra Nevada. As Amy Quinton reports, snowpack is well-below normal for this time of year.

Snowpack readings show water content at only 66-percent of average for this time of year. It’s not surprising, since the area has had just over two inches of precipitation since January. It’s the driest since record-keeping began.

It also has Central Valley farmers worried, as they depend on snow melt filling up reservoirs to provide irrigation for crops. Paul Wenger with the California Farm Bureau says farmers won’t be able to plant some of their annual crops.

“When we don’t have that snowpack, it has dire consequences.  So even if you get heavy rains in March, and we’ve had some miracle March’s before, they really don’t fill reservoirs because it’s snowpack that fills our reservoirs, not rainfall,” says Wenger.

Wenger also says a lot of crops are starting to bloom. If California begins getting too much rain now, bees won’t come out to pollinate.