NASA: Sierra snowpack bigger than last 4 years combined

NASA: Sierra snowpack bigger than last 4 years combined. (Courtesy: NASA)

It's no secret: the Sierra Nevada has seen a historic snow season.

But just how much snow has blanketed the Sierra?

According to NASA, the snowpack in the Tuolumne River Basin in California's Sierra Nevada is currently larger than the four previous years of snowpack combined.

Officials say on April 1 NASA's Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) measured the Tuolumne Basin snowpack at 1.2 million acre-feet -- enough to fill the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., nearly 1,600 times.

"In such a huge snow season, the data available from ASO will provide critical guidance for water managers as we enter into the peak melt season later this spring," said Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys of California's Department of Water Resources.

NASA says the 2017 California snowpack is close to the largest on record, which consists of decades' worth of snow measurements made at ground level. In fact, ASO mapping showed that Tuolumne Basin's snowpack is twice the volume of last year's snowpack and 21 times -- yes, 21 -- larger than the snowpack of 2015, the lowest on record.

What's more, the combined snowpack from 2013 through 2016 -- when California was in an intense drought -- added up to only 92 percent of this year's April 1 measurement, officials say.

All told, in much of Central Sierra, snow lies 25 feet deep. In some high mountain basins, snow is deeper than 80 feet, according to NASA.

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