News and Stories

UPDATE: El Niño and the California Drought

March 04, 2016


The much-discussed El Niño weather patterns have brought moderate snow and rain to California, but more is needed to pull the state out of the current multi-year drought. California received at or above normal levels of snow and rain in December and January, but February was a dry month that fell short of expectations. According to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, the outlook for March 2016 indicates above-normal rainfall for the majority of California. Snow and rain are forecast to arrive by the end of this weekend, benefiting both snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and reservoirs throughout the state. Regardless, snow and rain are needed over several years to help California overcome the drought.



California’s snowpack is a critical water source providing about 30 percent of the state’s water supply as it melts through the spring and early summer months. Snowpack is the amount of water, measured in inches, that would result if the entire snowpack melted instantaneously. The state’s snowpack measurements have greatly increased from last year. Snowpack statewide and in the three main regions of the Sierra Nevada Mountains (Northern, Central, and Southern Sierra) is listed below:

  • Statewide snowpack is currently at 20.2 inches (80% of average)
  • Last year’s statewide measurement on the same date was 5.0 inches (19% of average)
  • Northern Sierra snowpack is below normal levels at 22.5 inches (84% of average) 
  • Central Sierra is currently reading 21.2 inches (82% of average)
  • Southern Sierra snowpack is lower than normal with 16.7 inches (72% of average)


California rainfall is currently below seasonal norms in three of four key growing regions. Markon anticipates storms to arrive this weekend that will add to the below rainfall totals for the 2016 water year (October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016).


Markon will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.


Please contact your Markon customer service representative for more information.


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