First Snow Survey of 2017 Disappoints, But More Snow Expected This Week

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John Paasch and Frank Gehrke with the California Department of Water Resources conduct a manual snow survey on January 3, 2017 at Phillips Station, California. (Photo: Dale Kolke/California Department of Water Resources)

On Tuesday, California carried out its first manual snow survey of 2017, finding the Sierra Nevada snowpack's water content to be 70 percent of average for this time of year. But officials expect this week's storms -- and their anticipated four to five feet of snow -- to raise that number significantly. The snowpack provides approximately a third of the state's water supply and will play a large role in determining whether California will enter a sixth year of drought.

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Paul Rogers, managing editor, KQED's Science unit; environment writer, The Mercury News