Snowpack runoff is critical to the water resources in the western United States and changes in the timing and amount of runoff can exacerbate problems with already limited water supplies in the region. The largest losses in snowpack are occurring in the lower elevations of mountains in the Northwest and California, as higher temperatures cause more precipitation to fall as rain rather than snow
Why It Matters
The western part of the United States relies heavily on snowfall and snowpack from the winter months to get through the drier summers. The snowpack we see around us today will soon provide us with water for drinking, irrigation, domestic usage, and possibly even energy production. It also supports a healthy ecosystem and fills up local aquifers
In a state like California, the annual snowpack normally provides about a third of the water for California’s homes and farms as it melts into streams, reservoirs and aquifers. Moreover, snowpack is melting as much as 20 days earlier in many areas of the West.