After years of drought, many regions in California have been inundated with wet, wintry weather. When rain fell in the western areas of the state, snow fell on the Sierra Nevada Mountains. So much snow fell, in fact, that the snowpack is about 164% of average. In some areas, like Phillips Station in El Dorado County, it was as high as 183% of average. In a few spots, the snow has accumulated to measure 50 feet. During many of these storms, roads had to be temporarily closed due to slippery and hazardous conditions.
All of this snow has been a boon for businesses based in the mountains. Since late fall, ski resorts in Lake Tahoe and in the more southern areas of the state have seen people continue to pack the slopes. People had to plan their travel wisely to dodge the potentially treacherous conditions on the roads leading up to the resorts, but once they were there, they had time and money to spend.
It seems like business will stay steady well into the spring. This is a stark contrast to a few years ago when the fresh powder was hard to find.
A few more storms can’t be ruled out in the upcoming weeks, but as the weather turns warmer, the snowpack will slowly start to melt. The run-off will flow into streams and creeks, and the rivers running down from the hills will likely be fast and furious.
The downside of all of this is the greater likelihood for mudslides and floods. Several communities in Northern California have faced their share of problems related to the precipitation this winter. In February, the spillway at Lake Oroville reservoir was damaged, and almost 200,000 people were evacuated.
The upcoming months should be drier, giving everyone a break from a season that was packed with storm after storm.