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Sierra Nevada snowpack at twice the average level

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The latest survey of the Sierra Nevada snowpack Tuesday found what a state water official called “practically a California water supply dream” with twice as much snow as normal in some locations.

The state Department of Water Resources conducts manual surveys five times a year at Phillips Station just off of U.S. Highway 50 near Sierra-at-Tahoe, and Tuesday’s was the fourth.

The survey recorded 106.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 51 inches, 200 percent of average for the location. Snow water equivalent is the depth of water estimated to result if the entire snowpack melted at once.

Statewide, the Sierra snowpack is 162 percent of average, according to the department. The large amounts of snow have come from frequent storms that have come through California in the first three months of the year, and February and March in particular.

Since Feb. 1, statewide snow water equivalent has nearly tripled, according to the department. The snowpack typically supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs as snow melts into streets and reservoirs. “With full reservoirs and a dense snowpack, this year is practically a California water supply dream,” Department of Water Resources director Karla Nemeth said in a news release.

State officials said there could be flooding risks as the snow melts and they will monitor any problems that may arise.

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