Snow pack at above average |

Snow pack at above average

Got snow?

Lake Tahoe does.

The snowpack at a benchmark location near Echo Summit is even higher than it was this time last year, state officials said Thursday.

The California Department of Water Resources took measurements Thursday near Sierra-at-Tahoe, finding the snowpack to be 146 percent of a long-term average. It was 138 percent on April 1, 1998.

The Department of Water Resources conducts several measurements throughout the Sierra Nevada every month in the wintertime, and the average is based on the years from 1946 to 1995. The agency takes its final measurement in May, but the April 1 reading is used to calculate the season’s average.

Melted snow constitutes more than half of California’s surface water supply.

The southern Sierra received less-than-average snow this year, but California’s water supplies should be ample this summer, said Jeff Cohen, spokesman for the department. The Sierra’s overall average is about 150 percent, about the same as it was last year.

”This is our fifth year of wet weather. This is the first time we have had five consecutive above-average years since we started keeping records in the mid-19th century,” Cohen said.

Officials anticipate no major problems because of the below-average southern Sierra snowpack. That can be offset with increased groundwater pumping, Cohen said.

The Echo Summit measurements are taken at an elevation of 6,800 feet. The January measurement was 95 percent of normal, February’s reading was 127 percent and the March measurement revealed a snowpack of 162 percent.

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