PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) – The fourth and final snow survey of the year happened under bright blue skies, and brought bad news.

The reason why Thursday’s snow survey is so important is because when that snow melts, it provides one-third of the water to California homes and farmers.

Up in the Sierra, snow surveyors prodded the snow, measured and collected. Those numbers they gather may not mean much to many people right now, but they will — especially this year.

“Our January through March precipitation has certainly, in many areas, been the lowest that we have records for,” Surveyor Frank Gehrke said.

The results of the survey show California’s snowpack at only half of normal levels, meaning our water supply for this summer is in bad shape.

“I’ve never seen it this dry, a late winter, early spring,” said Dave Vierra, a West Sacramento farmer.

He says the lack of rain has hurt his wheat crop, and other farmers are doing worse than he is. In fact, some farmers are already being told to cutback.

“When you start going down south, they rely on the snowpack and water ways,” said Vierra.

With two dry years in a row, it’s critical California sees a wet winter this year.

“If you add another below than average snowpack next year, it will start to be quite serious,” said Gehrke.

Luckily, last winter’s wet weather provided enough water to fill reservoirs; but that won’t last long. We could all be asked to cut back if we don’t see any rain next year.

“It’s really going to heighten the awareness for next year because we’re going to start to eat into that reservoir storage,” said Gehrke.

It’s not known what will happen to farmers or us until next year. Until then, surveyors say it’s important to conserve water now.


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