December snowfall in the Sierra Nevada region has broken a record set five decades ago, according to an announcement from the University of California Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab on Monday.
“With a 24 hour official snow total of 98.75 cm at the lab, we have smashed the previous record of 455 cm of snow in December set in 1970!” the lab tweeted.
NEW DECEMBER RECORD: 193.7"— UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab (@UCB_CSSL) December 27, 2021
With a 24 hour official #snow total of 38.9" at the lab, we have smashed the previous record of 179" of snow in December set in 1970!
Snow rates are still heavy and we could even break the 200" mark today!#CAwx #CAwater pic.twitter.com/x9g6fRuzHQ
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As of Tuesday, more than 202 inches of snow had fallen since Dec. 1 at the laboratory. The snow at the site was “deep and hard to get through,” lab officials told CNN.
“While this event has been amazing so far, we are really concerned about the upcoming months not having as many storms,” said researcher Andrew Schwartz. “If we don’t get another inch, we’re still below what we would expect for the entire winter, which means that we can contribute to the drought rather than resolving it.”
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The region has experienced drought all year, which was exacerbated by wildfires. The record-breaking snow could play a role in offsetting the damage caused to bodies of water and ecosystems experiencing drought in the region. As snow melts and the weather gets warmer, water will be reintroduced to the environment.