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Sierra Nevada snowpack almost double of average, survey says

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A third of the water used by all Californians comes from the Sierras, and surveyors say the water content in the snowpack is at 190 percent of normal. Now the concern is to make sure it all doesn't melt too quickly. (KFSN)

Winter storms helped snap a string of five straight years of drought in California and produced an above average snowpack.

A third of the water used by all Californians comes from the Sierra snowpack. As much you might expect, it looks extremely healthy right now but we don't want to it to melt away too quickly.

The final snowpack reading of the season was taken in the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe. The Department of Water Resources reports the water content in the snowpack is at 190 percent of normal.

"The thing we're watching out for now, of course, is primarily the southern Sierra where we have full reservoirs and in some cases a huge snowpack," chief snow surveyor Frank Gehrke explained.

And this is a scene we are seeing all over the Valley after the wet winter. All that rain has resulted in full ponding basins in many areas. They're helping recharge the underground aquifer which takes the pressure off Valley growers.

Their crops are coming to life thanks to deliveries from irrigation districts. Many growers haven't been forced to pump as much groundwater from their wells.

"Here in the Sierra Nevada right above us, I mean we're looking at numbers that are quite honestly top five no matter where you look," said Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. "Top five of all historical records, so things are very, very strong right now.

Jacobsen has noticed area reservoirs have been releasing water to make way for the expected snowmelt. The Kings River is running full, and Jacobsen hopes the snowpack doesn't start to melt too soon as the weather warms to this 90s this week.

"It's that gradual melting that feeds the reservoirs which allow us to do what we do," he said. "If it comes at one time, we can't capture it. A week like this gets concerning because of those peaks, but we also see it go down the 70s by the weekend."

Steady releases mean irrigation canals can provide Valley farms with regular deliveries throughout the summer. Operators will also keep a close eye on our local rivers to make sure releases don't result in flooding downstream.

Related Topics:
sierra nevadafresno countydroughtcalifornia waterFresno County
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