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What is the Problem with the Snow in California?

Why is the current amount of snow in California a problem for residents of the state, and is there a way the snow could benefit California in the long-term with upcoming droughts during the spring and summer seasons?
Green News
2023-04-14T00:00:00.000Z
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snow on mountains

While everyone often views California as a state with continuously perfect weather, snow in California isn’t atypical in the Sierra Mountains or near Big Bear Lake – but the amount of snow in California that is currently occurring isn’t the norm for the state.

Why is the current amount of snow in California worrisome to residents of the state, but also – are there benefits to be had for all of the excess snow in California?

Does it usually snow in California?

When a European finds out you’re from California, they’re probably going to ask you about Hollywood, the palm trees, and year-round warm weather – but the truth that many people who are native to California fail to recognise is that the state is large in size with various topography and weather. For instance, cities like Los Angeles and San Diego are known for sunshine year round – but cities like San Francisco are cloudy, foggy, and cool for much of the year (even in the summer). 

Unbeknownst to many, there actually is snow in California depending on where in the state you are. Some of the most popular travel destinations for Californians and non-Californians alike include the California side of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Ranges and Big Bear Lake for a snowy escape – with the latter receiving a whopping 120 inches of snow every year. Other areas that snow in California include LAke Arrowhead, Mammoth Mountain, Yosemite National Park, and Lake Tahoe.

Given there is already consistent and considerable snow in California in these areas, why does the current amount of snowfall present new difficulties?

snow falling in small village near mountains

How much snowfall is there currently in California?

Climate change is continuing to present itself in new unforeseen ways, as last year, California had almost next to no snowfall – but is breaking records with the amount of snow in California this year. South Lake Tahoe has already measured that the current amount of snowfall is equivalent to 54 inches of liquid – and the California Sierras are reporting over a 200% increase in the amount of snow for this time of year (early Spring/April). Some of these areas reached over 50 feet of snow in California, and the excess snowfall has yet to completely melt.

👉 The current amount of snow in California could possibly exceed the current snowfall records that were recorded back in 1950.

However, while this amount of snow in California could prove beneficial in the short interim long run – this massive amount of snow has caused detrimental repercussions to California’s residents and potential tourism.

Why is the snow in California bad?

Off the bat, the benefits of the increased snow in California may seem apparent to many – but the truth is it has created many roadblocks for the state. For instance, in a similar way to the snowstorms in upstate New York a few months ago – many residents of the state in areas with large amounts of snow in California were getting stuck in the road due to the large amounts of snow and roads left uncleaned.

Another reason why the increased amount of snow in California is bad for the state as it is likely to repel tourists for quite some time, and while some tourists may want to retreat to areas like Big Bear or the Sierra Mountain Range to ski – it may not be worthwhile with the thought of getting stuck. Regardless of the fact that California serves as a tourist destination year-round, the snow in California still prevents many tourists and residents of the state alike from seeking to travel around almost half of the state given the current snow in California. Even the state’s well-known National Park, Yoesmite, had to close due to the heavy amounts of snow in California.

mountains in california

This isn’t usually a problem for people who live in areas of California where snow is common, but for areas where it isn’t usual like Southern California – residents have been left stranded as these areas of the state are not equipped to handle the new amount of snow in California.

However, some of the biggest issues of the snow in California will be the long-term effects that the state might struggle to get ahead of – such as the floods that are to come, which could instigate a repeat of the severe flooding due to increased rainfall that areas like Los Angeles have experienced in recent weeks. The problem with these floods from the increased snow in California is that areas where this snowfall has increased, such as in southern California, are not built or designed to account for the massive increase in snow and subsequently – the amount of water that is to eventually fall from the melted snow. 

Another issue worth nothing is that a drought can be coming at any minute given the state’s overall dry climate, and while the excessive snow in California can help to mitigate some of the potential negative effects of the drought and boost water resources in the short team – it could prove detrimental for California in the future, as they could be expecting that same amount of precipitation in the state in following years to help aid the crisis of a drought, only to find the snow in California was an exception.

👉 In other words, California shouldn’t get too used to the hefty amount of snow in the state to be the savior in other environmental crises yet to come such as droughts or wildfires.

In fact, many climate models have shown that despite the massive snow in California this year – next year could very well be a massive dry year for the state. While the snow in California could help this year, there is no guarantee it will continue the following year and aid in the droughts to come. 

As of now, the biggest predicament with the current snow in California is how the state is going to deal with the snowpack melting, with the need for emergency action and efforts to protect residents and tourists of the state needing to come into full play as soon as possible. The snow in California could result in wary, melting snow conditions all throughout this spring and summer.

sunset in snowy woods

Are there benefits to the snow in California?

Despite the current and potential negative effects of the snow in California, there are good things that will come of this new excessive snowfall. For instance, the snow in California will allow the state to not put as much strain on the Colorado River Basin, which will allow for the other states and areas that rely on the Colorado River as a water source to be provided with larger rations than usual. As the snow continues to melt into the summer, it will no doubt help California with the droughts it is likely to experience – and will also aid in recovery for areas that have been subject to many of the state’s forest fires.

The snow in California will serve as a boost for the state’s resource of water, with the amount of snowpack to melt from the Sierra Mountain Range on the California side expected to melt into rivers that make up for roughly a third of the state’s annual freshwater supply. This means the state will suddenly be able to have a brief pause of “relaxing” from the constant state of anxiety surrounding its droughts and incessant depleting reservoirs of water. In fact, recent reports state that some of the largest water reservoirs in California have been running at higher than average levels due to the recent snow in California. 

There are other benefits to be had from the recent snow in California, too. The increase in snow and rain across the state have allowed the soil moisture levels to rise again, directly benefiting the agriculture across much of the state (seeing as the state grows much of the trendy necessities such as almonds for almond milk) – which is a good thing for the economy of California, too. 

In fact, the snow in California has allotted for the Governor to lift some of the current drought restrictions – as the state’s supply of water is about to see a dramatic increase due to the heavy snowfall the state is experiencing. However, the state remains adamant on the importance of water conservation despite the new snow in California. 

pink sunset mountains in california

Is the increase in snow in California ultimately good or bad?

The snow in California is bad in the short term: due to the fact residents being trapped, dealing with snowpacks falling off into open areas or even houses, and preventing the state from its usual tourism. 

However, the snow in California can also be viewed as a blessing in disguise – as in the long term, it very well may be the state’s saving grace this upcoming spring and summer when dry and drought-like temperatures and conditions return. That being said, the state shouldn’t rely on exceptional snow in California in the future to pull them out of the other catastrophes being caused by climate change – and should continue seeking the long-term solutions they already have.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about snow in California has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Extreme snow in California is just one of the many surprising things to occur in the midst of climate change, but Greenly can help you no matter the situation – book a demo here to learn more. 

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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