Editorial: California snow survey makes it official — we’re all wet

Officials with the California Department of Water Resources conduct the first snow survey of 2024
Sean de Guzman, right, manager of the California Department of Water Resources Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Unit, and water resources engineer Anthony Burdock, left, measure the snowpack in January at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada.
(Andrew Nixon / California Department of Water Resources)

At the end of the rain and snow season, California is officially wet. The crucial April snow survey conducted Tuesday morning showed above-average Sierra snowpack. That means there will likely be enough melt over the rest of spring and summer to keep reservoirs from being depleted.

It’s not unexpected, but it’s a relief, because the season’s first survey showed a snowpack of only 25% of normal. A series of storms helped the state to catch up. The snowpack is now 64 inches, or slightly more than 5 feet, which is 113% of average at the measurement spot in El Dorado County. Surveys in other locations show about 105% of average snowpack statewide.

“Average is awesome,” California Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth said Tuesday at the survey site.


California’s second straight rainy winter provided relief from years-long drought and helped Los Angeles demonstrate that it can store water for drier times. Now let’s up our drought-preparedness game.

March 24, 2024

Things could still go bad. A strong heatwave could melt the snowpack too quickly and lead to flooding. It might even cause portions to evaporate, as happened during the worst of the recent drought years. That’s part of the menace of climate change: Even when we get enough precipitation, it might not come at the right time, in the right place or under the right conditions to quench our thirst.

But for now, let’s celebrate. It was a wet year, and that buys us more time to toughen our drought resistance measures.