Snow survey in Cascade Mts. shows positive signs


NEAR MCCLOUD, Calif. - PG&E snow surveyors spent Wednesday checking the snow pack in the Cascade Mountain Range.

"These snow surveys are important so we can calculate how much water we're going to get this year," explained Paul Moreno, spokesman for PG&E.

After a 30 minute helicopter flight, the chopper nestled down onto a meadow a little more than half way between Burney and McCloud in southern Siskiyou County.

"This is a snow field we've been surveying for many years. We share this data with the state and they compile it to get an idea of what the water situation is going to look like in the coming year," said Moreno.

"The most important step is to weigh the snow so we know how much water is in that snow," said Hydrographer Tony Orozco.

One ounce of weight on the survey scale is equivalent to one inch of water on the ground.

"So 38 is what we're weighing … so we know we have approximately three inches of water in this snow pack below us at this specific point," explained Orozco.

The pair of PG&E snow surveyors took ten to 12 different samples throughout the meadow in the Cascade Mountains Wednesday. They will then average that amount, giving them a good idea of how much snow will melt and eventually turn into water and become hydro-electric power used by PG&E during the hot summer months.

"Recent storms have given us more snow than we would have had otherwise. And that's going to be playing an important role in helping the water supplies, because just a couple of months ago we were looking at a very dire situation," explained Moreno.

Earlier this year, PG&E said the Northstate was at 30 percent of normal for snowfall. Fast forward to today and Moreno said we have doubled that number.

"Now we're about 60 percent of normal. So it's far better than it was before but of course we're still in a dry situation so we're still going to continue to manage the water wisely," said Moreno.

PG&E strategically oversees the amount of water used for hydro-electric power at facilities tucked away along Northstate reservoirs.

Keeping those waterways as full as possible during spring will become crucial when high heat rolls in with the next season.

"That way we'll have power available to meet the summer peak demand periods," explained Moreno.

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