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  • Writer's pictureFresno Irrigation

Massive Late January Storm Gives Kings Snowpack A Big Boost But More Is Needed


Steve Haugen, Kings River Watermaster

Office: (559) 217-5249

Randy McFarland, KRWA Public Information Consultant

Office: (559) 260-2775


February 2, 2021

AN ATMOSPHERIC RIVER that last week pounded Central California has significantly improved Kings River watershed snowpack conditions. The Kings River Water Association (KRWA) reports the big January 27-28 storm appears to have added some six inches of precipitation and about 30 inches of average snow depth.

“This storm was a big help in what has started out as a very dry water year,” Kings River Watermaster Steve Haugen said. “Unfortunately, water content and snow accumulation measurements remain considerably below average for February 1 and only a little more than a third of where they should peak on April 1. We would need the equivalent of four more storms like the one we just experienced to end up average for the season.”

KRWA says snowpack data collected for the California Cooperative Snow Survey following the January 27-28 storm event included 18 remote watershed snow courses that showed an average snow water content of 10.2 inches, 59.5% of normal for February 1. The highest percentage of average the date’s snow water content — 69.3% — was found in Post Corral Meadow at an elevation of 8,250 feet.

In general, snow survey locations in the northern portion of the Kings River watershed and at higher elevations received more snow from the storm.

Four other snow courses, all above the 10,500-foot level near the Sierra crest, were measured but data collection took place prior to the atmospheric river event. Those stations were not included in the overall summary. The fairly small pre-storm snow depths at those locations — ranging from 11.5-24.5 inches — dramatically illustrated beneficial effects of the snowfall event. Pre-storm snowpack water content readings on those same courses ranged from only 2.5-5 inches.

The KRWA, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service all cooperate in gathering and compiling snowpack data in the Kings River watershed. That information will be used by the California Department of Water Resources in compiling the season’s first Kings River forecast of natural runoff. Those predictions are expected to be released next week.


Source: KRWA Press Release


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