California storm parade produces record mid-January Sierra snowpack

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jan 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-12 18:33:02-05

(THE WEATHER CHANNEL) — A series of California storms has pushed Sierra snowpack to record levels for mid-January and boosted state reservoirs in what has been a stunning turn of events in the drought-stricken area.

At least six separate rounds of rain and mountain snow have drenched the Golden State since the day after Christmas.

In the Sierra, where snowfall measured in feet is typical each winter and spring, this prolonged storm parade has left the snowpack in record territory.

As of Jan. 11, the water content of the state's snowpack was 226% of average, more than twice what it typically is this time of year. In the northern, central and southern Sierra, that snowpack is running at record levels for mid-January in records dating to 1981, topping the pace set in 1982-83, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

The University of California-Berkeley's Central Sierra Snow Lab near Lake Tahoe reported 8 to 9 feet of snow on the ground Tuesday, up to the building's second-floor windows.

Mammoth Mountain – in the southern Sierra near Yosemite National Park – has reported 190 inches (nearly 16 feet) of snow from Dec. 26 through Jan. 11. Their seasonal total – 328 inches – is already more than each of the past three winter seasons since 2019-20.

H​eavenly Ski Resort has already topped their average full-season snowfall total of 250 inches.

What's also impressive is the snowpack is already above typical spring levels. As of Jan. 11, Sierra snowpack was 102% of average for April 1. That's when the snowpack typically reaches its yearly peak before melting begins in spring and summer.