Feeble Sierra snow signals deepening drought

Snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range has decreased in the month of January, fueling concerns that California may have to endure a fourth consecutive year of drought, the Department of Water Resources announced Thursday.

January is normally California’s wettest month, according to the DWR, and snow pack levels typically increase this time of year. DWR spokesman Doug Carlson said that the snow pack should be steadily building up from December through April:

“It’s going the wrong direction, there’s no doubt about that.”

According to the most recent measurements, snow pack is at just 25 percent of the long-term average statewide for this time of year. At one location 90 miles east of Sacramento, snow pack was measured at just 12 percent of average.

Carlson said:

“The fact is that everybody who has concerns about drought conditions has reason to be concerned now.”

Nelsey Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, said the snow pack survey is very important to the Bay Area:

“There’s less water going into the reservoirs, so there’s just no end in sight to the drought conditions that concern so many in our state. …┬áThis will definitely have an impact on the East Bay in particular. … We draw 90 percent of our water from the Mokelumne River.”

The district’s total reservoir storage is currently at 49 percent of its overall capacity, and 69 percent of its long-term average. This time last year it was at 61 percent of overall capacity and 86 percent of long-term average.

Rodriguez said:

“We continue to watch our water levels deplete slowly, and we’re monitoring every day so we can manage our way through this drought.”