Western US weather expert

Western US: A look at Sierra snow and weekend storm potential

By Jordan Root, AccuWeather meteorologist
3/06/2018, 12:06:20 PM

The biggest snowfall of the season for the Sierra is a couple days in the past now, but I wanted to take a quick look at the snow it left and where the snowpack stands now.

The storm brought some hefty amounts of snow over the first few days of March with many areas in the Sierra receiving 4 to 6 feet of snow but some areas were even higher. The highest amount that I came across was 80 inches at Kirkwood Ski Resort.

sat view snowpack ca

The fresh snowpack across the Sierra can be seen clearly in this satellite view. Terra/MODIS/NASA

It’s no secret that it has been a down year in terms of snow and rain across California and the Southwest in general, so a storm like this was one that was needed. However, despite this major storm dumping all of that snow, the snowpack deficit still remains large.

As of March 5, the statewide regional snowpack across California is only 37 percent of where it should be on this date, even after the big snowstorm.

current snowpack mar 5 ca

Regional snowpack across California as of March 5 and where it stands compared to normal. Department of Water Resources/State of California

It would take several more major snow storms like that one to get remotely close to being at normal. Unfortunately, time on the climatology clock is running out as California is nearing the end of its wet season.

North Sierra Precip Mar 5

Total water year precipitation for the North Sierra. Department of Water Resources/State of California

A look at the reservoirs does not paint as much of a grim picture at the moment thanks to the record-setting wet season last year. However, if the snowpack does not improve for the remainder of the wet season, that could cause issues down the road.

reservoir levels mar 5

Reservoir levels across California as of midnight March 4 . Department of Water Resources/State of California

Keeping an eye on potential storm system over the weekend

Outside of a little rain in far Northern California at midweek, most of the state will remain dry this week. However, models continue to show a piece of energy coming through California over the weekend.

shortwave ca next storm

Models have a consensus that a piece of energy will move through over the weekend. This could bring a round of moderate rain and high elevation snow. Model shown is GFS 500 mb.

While it does not look to be a major storm at this point, there does appear to be some opportunity for some moderate rain and high-elevation snow for central and Southern California. We’ll keep an eye on this feature over the coming days.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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Western US weather expert