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Despite storms, Sierra Nevada mountain snowpack still less than average

Water content measures 53% of normal for this time of year

Recent storms suggest an increase in snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range although it's still less than average for this time of year.

Officials with the Department of Water Resources said that experts took manual measurements early Tuesday morning at the Phillips Station at 6,000 feet near Lake Tahoe and found that water content measured around 53 percent of normal.

Despite a dismal beginning, the series of storms forecasted is expected to bolster the snowpack, Frank Gehrke for the California

Cooperative Snow Surveys program said.

"I can see us being potentially at average once that series of storms movies through," Gehrke said.

According to water officials, about two-thirds California's annual rainfall occurs between December and March.

Total precipitation has been above average, but warm temperatures during storms have kept precipitation as rain instead of snow.

State Climatologist Mike Anderson added: "We still

have three historically wet months ahead of us so there's still time for the snowpack to build and improve before it begins to melt, which usually starts to happen around April 1."

Water officials said on average, the snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California's water needs as it melts.

California has experienced five consecutive years of drought, with Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. declaring a drought state of emergency on Jan.

17, 2014.

"Precipitation and storage are doing quite well compared to the past five years of historic drought conditions and that makes us cautiously optimistic about water conditions, although some areas in California are still hit hard by the drought and require a response," acting DWR Director

Bill Coryle said in a statement.

Californians can learn ways to save water every day by visiting www.SaveOurWater.com/

— Bay City News Service

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