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Satellite images show just how quickly Sierra’s snowpack is retreating - Energy And Water Development Corp

Satellite images show just how quickly Sierra’s snowpack is retreating

The storms that frosted the Sierra Nevada with a healthy layer of snow in December soon gave way to dry weather, and the snowpack is showing it.

Satellite images from NASA show a big difference even between January and February. Images from Jan. 9 showed a blanket of snow over the Sierra Nevada and their foothills, with clouds overshadowing parts of the Bay Area and Central Valley.

Five weeks later on Feb. 17, the snowpack appeared to shrink, no longer the opaque white layer on top of some of the state’s tallest mountains. In one part of the foothills just east of Chico, the snow has almost completely disappeared, now a dark forest green.

“That snowpack has started to melt and it’s fallen below average now,” said Cory Mueller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

California officials who conducted a snow survey in January found that snowpack in the state’s mountains measured about 92% of average for that time of year – better than previous years, but less than half of the 160% of average recorded in December.

As of Friday, that number was closer to 65% of average for this time of year, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

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