DISASTERS

Winter's first measurement of the Sierra Nevada snowpack shows more snow this year than last

  • Frank Gehrke, chief of California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, left,   pulls the snow depth survey pole from the snow pack as he conducts the first snow survey of the season at Echo Summit, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 30,  2014. The survey showed the snow pack to to be 21.3  inches deep with a water content of 4.8 inches, which is  33 percent of normal for this site at this time of year.  At right is Dave Schmalenberger, of the Eat Bay Municipal Utility District, who accompanied Gehrke on the survey. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

    Frank Gehrke, chief of California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, left, pulls the snow depth survey pole from the snow pack as he conducts the first snow survey of the season at Echo Summit, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014. The survey showed the snow pack to to be 21.3 inches deep with a water content of 4.8 inches, which is 33 percent of normal for this site at this time of year. At right is Dave Schmalenberger, of the Eat Bay Municipal Utility District, who accompanied Gehrke on the survey. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)  (The Associated Press)

  • A snow plow clears snow from Highway 50 near Echo Summit, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014. Snow in the Sierra Nevada caused drivers to have to put chains on their vehicles to cross the summit. The California Department Water Resources held the first snow survey of the season near Echo Summit and found the snow pack to to be 21.3  inches deep. The water content of the snow measured Tuesday was about 33 percent of average. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

    A snow plow clears snow from Highway 50 near Echo Summit, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014. Snow in the Sierra Nevada caused drivers to have to put chains on their vehicles to cross the summit. The California Department Water Resources held the first snow survey of the season near Echo Summit and found the snow pack to to be 21.3 inches deep. The water content of the snow measured Tuesday was about 33 percent of average. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)  (The Associated Press)

  • Frank Gehrke, chief of California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, left, plunges the snow depth survey pole into the snow as he conducts the first snow survey of the season at Echo Summit, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 30,  2014. The survey showed the snow pack to to be 21.3  inches deep with a water content of 4.8 inches, which is  33 percent of normal for this site at this time of year.  At right is Dave Schmalenberger, of the Eat Bay Municipal Utility District, who accompanied Gehrke on the survey. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

    Frank Gehrke, chief of California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program for the Department of Water Resources, left, plunges the snow depth survey pole into the snow as he conducts the first snow survey of the season at Echo Summit, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014. The survey showed the snow pack to to be 21.3 inches deep with a water content of 4.8 inches, which is 33 percent of normal for this site at this time of year. At right is Dave Schmalenberger, of the Eat Bay Municipal Utility District, who accompanied Gehrke on the survey. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)  (The Associated Press)

The first snow survey of the Sierra Nevada snowpack this winter found more snow than last year at this time, but not enough to impact the California drought.

The Department of Water Resources conducted the survey Tuesday about 90 miles east of Sacramento.

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, said there were 21.3 inches of snow on the ground.

Following recent storms, he said, the survey found more snow in the mountains than last year at this time, but the water content is still far below average for the date.

California's snowpack supplies about a third of the water needed by state residents, agriculture and industry as it melts in the late spring and summer.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ECHO SUMMIT, Calif. (AP) — The state Department of Water Resources is slated to do the winter's first manual measurement of the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.

Abundant snowfall in the mountains would be an important part of ending one of the worst droughts in more than a century of record keeping.

State officials say California's snowpack supplies about a third of the water needed by the state's residents, agriculture and industry as it melts in the late spring and summer.

After three straight years of below-average snow and rainfall, surface and groundwater reservoirs are depleted. That isn't likely to change unless rain and snow this year are above historical averages. Though December was wet, the storms were warmer than needed to generate greater-than-normal snowfall in the Sierra Nevada.