Snow finally came to the Sierra on Thursday but the flurries were too little, too late, to plump up the closely-watched Sierra snowpack.
About six inches of heavy, wet snow blanketed areas near Lake Tahoe, just as state water managers were scrounging for some good news for the monthly Sierra snow survey. They didn't find much to celebrate.
Water managers keep a close eye on two measures. First: where the snowpack stands compared to the average for this date. Answer: just 12 percent of normal, statewide. That shatters the previous mark for this point in the winter of 21 percent, which had stood for more than 20 years.
The second number is even more sobering: Thursday's measurements put the water content of Sierra snows at just 7 percent of the average for April 1st, when accumulation is typically at its peak and the runoff season is about to start. With just two months to go, that's a lot of precipitation to make up, considering that California counts on the mountain snowpack for about a third of its water.