It’s been a dismal winter.
As of Thursday afternoon when the Mammoth Times went to press, the snowfall at Mammoth Pass was at 48 percent of normal for the year. The water content in that snowfall was even lower—20 percent of normal. The cumulative Owens River Basin snowfall is at about 35 percent of normal. The state gives the central Sierra, where Mammoth Lakes lies, an average of about 28 percent of normal for April 1 this year.
An incoming storm Thursday night and Friday has been slightly downgraded from a previous prediction of adding another two feet of snow to the Sierra crest to less than that; around 15 inches.
“The storm could bring the total average for the year to about 50 percent of normal but that’s about it,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Scott McGuire Thursday.
“It’s going to be a decent storm, but nothing extraordinary,” he said.
Snowfall totals and the total amount of moisture in the snow are generally measured by the state for the last time for each year on April 1.
The information from that snow survey is used to determine how and where the state allocates all its fresh water, from agriculture to wildlife. The dry winter means the state will be able to allocate 50 percent of the demands requested, with full reservoirs from last year’s big winter offsetting what would have been an even lower allocation number.
After this storm, the outlook is still pretty grim for the next two weeks when it comes to more snowfall, or even rain, due to a relatively strong high pressure ridge building up in the Pacific, McGuire said.
“It’s setting up for the long haul,” he said. There might be another system in late April, though it’s too soon to tell, he said.