Snowpack about average for beginning of January

Enough snow has fallen in the Sierra Nevada so far this season that state water managers were optimistic at the end of last week.

Eighty-five percent of the water for four Bay Area counties, including San Francisco, comes from melting snow in the Sierra Nevada, according to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, a consortium of cities, water districts and private utilities that use water from the system.

State water managers said the water contained in the Sierra Nevada snowpack is 97 percent of normal for Jan. 2 at Philips Station where it was measured. The depth of snow at Philips Station was 33.5 inches and the water equivalent was 11 inches. The water equivalent is a more accurate measure for the expected runoff in the spring and summer and the basis for the 97 percent figure.

Winter storms in November and December provided a good start to the 2020 snowpack, Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, said in a statement, though it’s still below average. Statewide, the snowpack is at 90 percent of average. Water managers said the state has experienced a dry start to the water year.

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