Sierra snowpack shows improvement, but not enough to declare California's drought over

 In a symbolic moment in California's slow but steady drought recovery, a state surveyor on Wednesday found several feet of snow in the same Sierra Nevada meadow that was bare and brown just a year ago.

The depth of the snowpack was declared to be just below average, a huge improvement from last year, but still far from enough to declare the drought over.

Around 11 a.m., Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, thrust a long silver tube into Phillips Station’s renewed, robust snowpack and, minutes later, told gathered reporters that there was more than 58 inches of snow on the ground.

That snow held 26 inches of water content, he said, just short of average for the date.

“A big improvement compared to last year,” Gehrke said, “but not what we had hoped for.”

The Phillips Station measurement — which officials said was 97% of average — provides data for just one location and therefore is considered more symbolic than definitive. The results from the station about 90 miles east of Sacramento are not necessarily representative of statewide conditions, officials say. 

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