First snow survey of season shows Kings River snowpack is above average

Dale Yurong Image
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
First snow survey of season shows Kings River snowpack is above average
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The Department of Water Resources' first snow survey at Phillips Station near Lake Tahoe was encouraging.

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Department of Water Resources' first snow survey at Phillips Station near Lake Tahoe was encouraging. It showed the snowpack at 174% of average.

"Our snowpack is actually off to one of our best starts in the past 40 years but that does not mean we are out of the woods quite yet," said Sean de Guzman, manager of DWR's snow surveys.

This survey, though, does not tell the Central Valley story.

"What happens at Echo Summit is really important for the people in Sacramento and Stockton but it doesn't mean a thing to us," said Randy McFarland with the Kings River Water Association.

The water stored behind Pine Flat dam serves the cities of Fresno and Clovis.

Recent storms have loaded up an impressive snowpack high above behind the dam.

"The snowpack over our southern sierra is running right now about 200% of average for this date," McFarland said.

206% of normal, in fact.

A brown, wet stretch of the river about four miles southwest of Kingsburg normally runs dry but that's changed because of the recent rains.

"It's so nice to see water in the river," McFarland said.

McFarland hopes the next round of storms will continue to pad the snowpack and recharge the underground aquifer.

"We certainly have the possibility for having an average water year of above now but we're not guaranteed it," explained McFarland.

Nothing is guaranteed because conditions can change quickly.

A year ago, a stormy December was followed by dry conditions from January through April.