Monthly report on Kern River watershed shows underachieving snow pack, so far

February 1, 2022
by Lois Henry
California river basins. SOURCE: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Lois Henry

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The monthly Kern River Snow and Water Report ,compiled by a Kern River Valley water watcher, was delivered to email inboxes Feb. 1 and the news was sub par.

Scott Williams, of Kernville, compiles a monthly precipitation report for the Kern River watershed from numerous publicly available sources.

The report shows a roller coaster water year so far with a great October, a water bust for November, a super December, ending with a very low January.

The end result, as of the beginning of February, was a below-average snowpack.

“The current snowpack is 43% of the California annual April 1 benchmark of 21.5 inches of snow water content,” the report states. Snow water content is the amount of water that will be released during runoff.

That’s down 3% from the December finding of 46% of the annual benchmark.

“To date, precipitation ion the Upper Kern River basin is 89% of average and in the South Fork Kern River basin, it is 95% of average,” according to the report.

With a La Niña weather pattern expected to continue, forecasters are predicting the annual Kern River runoff to be 58% of average, hitting its peak around May 15.

Though the numbers are better than 2021, when the total Kern River flow was only 20% of normal, the second-lowest since 1961, the report advises that readers “hope for a miracle February, March and April!”

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.

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