Dry December Produces Below-Average Snowpack


Snow survey on January 3, 2018 in Phillips Station

DWR’s January 2018 manual snow survey at Phillips Station.

 Rainfall in California was far above average in November. Then came December, one of the state’s driest months on record. It’s not a surprise that the first snow survey of the season, on January 3, revealed meager results: just 0.4 inches of snow water equivalent (SWE). The average for early January readings at Phillips Station, in the Sierra Nevada, is 11.3 SWE inches. 

Electronic readings show that the average statewide SWE is 2.6 inches, or just 24 percent of the January 3 average.

“As we’re only a third of the way through California’s three wettest months, it’s far too early to draw any conclusions about what kind of season we’ll have this year,” said DWR Director Grant Davis.

California’s wettest months are December through February, so there’s still time for Mother Nature to build her mountain “reservoir” and eventually provide the runoff California needs when it melts.

For more information on January’s snow survey, read our press release