According to the latest “US Drought Monitor” report, the long-term drought in California is now “officially” over following the very wet winter season of 2018-2019. For the first time since 2011, the state has no region suffering from prolonged drought and the vast majority of the state California is “normal”. The reservoirs are full, the lakes are full, and there is a ton of snow in the higher elevation locations. In fact, the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada – a major source of California’s water supply – has reached incredible amounts by doubling in the month of January and then doubling again in February and despite the calendar showing mid-May, more significant snow is on the way.
In terms of snowfall, the amounts have been simply spectacular this winter and spring in the Sierra Nevada with more than 51 feet recorded at Squaw Valley as an example. How much snow falls every winter season is critical to California’s water supply. The snow, which forms a vast “frozen reservoir” over California’s 400-mile long Sierra mountain range, provides nearly one-third of the state’s water supply for cities and farms as it slowly melts in the spring and summer months, sending billions of gallons of clean, fresh water flowing down dozens of rivers and streams into reservoirs.
A cold front will swing through the region on Wednesday afternoon and this will pave the way for significant snowfall in the higher elevations from Yosemite to Sequoia beginning by Wednesday evening. Heavy snow may break out at levels above 8000 feet by Wednesday night and then this level for snow will lower to around 5000 feet by Thursday afternoon. Some locations above 5000 feet can receive up to 2 feet of new snowfall over the next few days with isolated amounts of up to 3 feet above 8000 feet during this event. Travel in this region will become very difficult during this event given the heavy snowfall and strong winds that are expected to reach 45 mph or so. The low pressure system will move inland on Friday and begin to weaken, but an active weather pattern is likely to bring more shots of snow to this part of the nation in coming days.