Saturday, April 15, 2017

Record Levels of Precipitation in the Northern Sierra

The Northern Sierra Precipitation 8-Station Index is in the news. We've set a record regarding the amount of precipitation at these 8 stations. The index started to be compiled in 1922. The index "averages 50 inches per year, gives a sense of how much precipitation the Sacramento River watershed.":
A series of late-season storms has vaulted this winter into the history books, making it the wettest winter for California’s northern Sierra Nevada in nearly a century of record-keeping, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

As of Thursday, an astonishing 89.7 inches of precipitation across a zone of eight stations in the northern Sierra has been recorded since October. That breaks the record 88.5 inches that fell by the in the 1982-83 rainy season.
Sierra Nevada precipitation is significant because the mountain range supplies large amounts of water to the rest of the state.

“When we receive a record amount of rainfall in the north, that translates to everybody who benefits from water down the state,” said Doug Carlson, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources.
Nevertheless, we haven't set a snowpack record. Some of this precipitation must have come down as rain. As the Sac Bee article notes:
The Sierra snowpack is 176 percent of normal for this time of year. However, the state is unlikely to break the record for snow, which was also set in the 1982-83 season. The snowpack reached 63.6 inches of “snow water equivalent” on April 1, 1983. This year, the snow water equivalent was 45.7 inches on April 1.

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