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Sierra Snowpack Above Average, Measurement Shows

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Californians hope they're nearing the end of the 5-year drought. A new survey finds the snowpack is higher than normal in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Those snow-covered mountainsides become the source for much of the water that flows down to the coast. Scientist Jay Lund sees this as a good sign.

JAY LUND: It's much better than last year, but it's still early days.

INSKEEP: He's director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis. And he says it's still early days because heavy snowfall would have to continue for months to get back to normal. The El Nino weather system could also help.

LUND: It'll take quite a few large storms. We have a very large cumulative deficit over the last four years, both in reservoirs and in groundwater storage, but it'll take a real gullywasher.

INSKEEP: Which has not yet happened.

LUND: There's always this promise of El Nino, so we're hopeful that we'll get more rain, but we haven't seen it yet.

INSKEEP: For now, Lund says he welcomes the snowpack results. California will pretty much take water in any form. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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