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Drought

California’s mountains are dry. Now we know how dry

 •  by Lois Henry
This photo shows a comparison of snow coverage and how much water it holds from May 2021 (left) to May 2019 (right). The darker blue indicates greater water content. Courtesy Airborne Snow Observatories, Inc.

In a pitifully dry year like 2021, understanding the state’s skimpy snowpack is critical.

Multi-million dollar decisions can hinge on even the smallest amounts of snow melt squeezed out of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Which makes information provided by Airborne Snow Observatories, Inc. flights vital, according to water managers.

“Right now, there’s still 10,000 to 20,000 acre feet of variability in the (runoff) forecasts,” in the Kings River watershed, said Steve Haugen, Kings River Watermaster. “That may not sound like a lot, but it can mean the difference between some districts being able to run water or not.”

In terms of value, that much water could be worth $12.5 million to $25 million considering at least one ag district has set its price at $1,250 per acre foot this year.

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Lois Henry
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