ECHO SUMMIT (CBS13) — While Wednesday’s storm dumped a fair amount of precipitation on the region, Thursday’s snowpack results show it’s going to take a lot more than that to end the current drought.

The survey revealed snow levels at 12 percent of average for this time of the year. Before this survey, the previous record low was 21 percent in 1963 and 1991.

Sierra resorts, mired in a long, dry winter, say it’s about time snow fell this week.

“We welcome the snow, and all the business that’s going to come,” said Steven Hemphill with Sierra-at-Tahoe.

Just don’t expect any miracles from this first snowfall.

The second snow survey of the season confirmed what we already knew: We’re in real trouble. Snows normally up to Frank Gehrke’s waist or higher were much lower near Echo Summit off Highway 50.

“If we’re looking at 1977 as the driest year on record for the state, we’re quite a bit below that level at this location,” Gehrke said.

Even a foot of fresh powder won’t make a dent in the drought, especially the light, fluffy stuff that fell. It’s mostly air and not water, so the desperately needed runoff to replenish reservoirs will be nonexistent from this storm.

“It’s pretty sobering,” he said.

The state’s snowpack supplies one-third of California’s water.

“We basically need about 18 inches to bring us back up to where we should be,” he said.

It’s possible to pick up 18 inches, but it’s never happened in a season this dry. In other words, getting back to normal from this point would be unprecedented.

The California Department of Water Resources is concerned that once this storm clears out, the same stubborn high-pressure ridge that’s kept the state dry will settle back in. That means storms on track for California would be diverted north and miss the state altogether.


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