California snowpack nearly 175% of average but state not out of drought yet

After several years of drought, California's snowpack was well above normal on Tuesday, but still, water officials warned that the state is not out of the woods just yet.

The good news is that statewide, the snowpack is 174 percent of average for this date and California is expected to see continued rain and snow over the next seven days. Snow surveyors at Phillips Station in El Dorado County recorded 55.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 17.5 inches.

"Our snow pack is off to one of its best starts in the past 40 years," Department of Water Resources Snow Survey Director Sean de Guzman said. 

But still, parched Californians shouldn't rejoice too quickly.  

"It’s always great to be above average this early in the season, but we must be resilient and remember what happened last year," De Guzman added. We'll need consecutive storms; month after month after month of rain, snow an runoff to help really refill our reservoirs." 

MORE: Wildest weather videos from California's series of storms

In 2022 and also in 2013, the Jan. 1 snowpacks were also at or above average conditions, but then dry weather set in, leading to drought conditions by the end of the water year in the fall. 

On average, the Sierra snowpack supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs and is an important factor in determining how the department manages the state’s water resources. 

Its natural ability to store water is why the Sierra snowpack is often referred to as California's "frozen reservoir." 

A below-average snowpack impacts water users across the state, putting further stress on the environment and critical groundwater supplies.