Up, down snowpack ends with average winter | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Up, down snowpack ends with average winter

What a sporadic winter.

The lack of snow for much of March has led to an end-of-the-season snowpack that is below average for the Lake Tahoe area, bringing to a close a winter with big storms and long periods without snow.

California water officials surveyed the snow at a benchmark location near Echo Summit Friday, finding the snowpack at 83 percent of normal. Jeff Cohen, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources, described that station as an anomaly. That station was the lowest of five measurement locations along the South Fork of the American River. The average for the group was 90 percent.

“This area is right on the cusp between north and south,” he said. “We had 115 for the northern Sierra and 84 for the central Sierra. Overall in the Sierra we’re at 95 percent this winter. It’s nothing huge, but it makes it six pretty good years in a row.”

Cohen said the numbers are high enough that there should be no lack of water for California this summer.

The California agency surveys the snowpack around the first of January, February, March and April. The amounts seesawed dramatically this year at the 6,800-foot-elevation site near Echo Summit: 24 percent at the beginning of January, 67 percent in February and 115 last month. The 83 percent recorded Friday will go in the books as the average at Echo Summit location for the winter of 1999 and 2000.

The two previous years were extremely wet winters: 146 percent last year and 138 percent in 1998.

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