After months of drought, California’s Sierra Nevada mountains have seen record snowfall – nearly 17 feet so far in January. 

Scientists at the University of California – Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, at Donner Pass east of Sacramento, recorded 202 inches of snow, or just over 16 feet and nine inches, on Tuesday. 

Due to heavy snowfall this month was the snowiest December ever recorded for the region and also the third most snowy month since 1970, when records were first kept by experts. 

January 2017, which saw 238 inches (nearly 20 ft) of snow, was the most snowy month. More snow is likely to come through 2018, but not enough to break that record. 

Sierra Nevada recorded a record breaking 202 inches or nearly 17 feet of snow on Tuesday morning

Sierra Nevada recorded an unprecedented 202 inches, or almost 17 feet of snow, Tuesday morning 

Highway 88 on September 3, 2021

State Route 89 on December 28, 2022

California has seen an increased number of extreme weather events, including historic wildfires or dangerous snowfall.

The heavy snowfall pushed this month to become the snowiest December in the area's history

This December was the snowiest in area history due to the heavy snowfall 

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley's Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, at Donner Pass east of Sacramento took 40 minutes to travel 50 yards in the packed snow

The University of California at Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory took scientists 40 minutes to traverse 50 feet in the packed snow.

Monday was the day that the UC Berkley laboratory saw 193.7 inches of snow. This beat December 1970’s total of 179 inches. 

This month’s snowfall even beats 185-inch snowfall that fell near Donner Pass in December 1889, according to according to weather historian Christopher Burt.

The snow was so thick that it made it difficult for lab members to get through. It took them 40 minutes to reach the 50-yard measurement point. 

After months of droughts record-breaking and wildfires that devastated California, this record-breaking snow is now possible. 

The Golden State experienced the most intense drought in the state’s 126-year record, with this July being the driest month since the state began recording this data in 1895.    

California was also struck by dangerous fuming wildfires, which erupted all over the Sierra Nevada for the very first time. 

Numerous villages were destroyed and families had to be evacuated several times. In addition, several residents were injured in multiple fires. 

It was the increased snowfall and moistness that the state experienced in this month that finally brought an end to the wildfires season. 

The National Interagency Coordination Center’s Nick Nauslar said that the fuel moistures would rise as temperatures drop and there’s more precipitation. The fuel moisture levels are harder to ignite or spread than fire.

Sierra Nevada almost broke of the previous all-time record for snowfall which was recorded at 238 inches or nearly 20 feet of snow in January 2017

Sierra Nevada nearly broke the old all-time record of snowfall, which was 238 inches or just over 20 feet. This occurred January 2017, when Sierra Nevada. 

Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada accounts for 30 percent of California's fresh water supply in an average year, according to the California Department of Water Resources

The California Department of Water Resources reports that California’s snowpack accounts for 30% of California’s fresh water supplies in an average year.

Californian's are hoping the area heavy snowfall will help them recover from the dangerous extreme weather from earlier this year

Californians believe that heavy snowfall this area will be a great help in recovering from extreme weather earlier in the year

Californians also hope that heavy snow will end the drought. 

Many regions have experienced drought, some in severe drought.  

Although the influx of snow has already hit record breaking numbers, Andrew Schwartz, the lead scientist and station manager of the Sierra snow laboratory is still hoping for more. 

Schwartz said that although this event was remarkable so far it is worrying about what the future months hold for storms. 

 ‘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.’ 

Experts are happy to see the snow but hope for more to make up for last year's below average snowfall

The experts are pleased to be seeing the snow, but they hope to get more than last year’s less-than-average snowfall.

The heavy snowfall has caused officials in the area to issue a travel advisory warning against non-essential travel

A travel advisory was issued by officials to discourage non-essential travel because of the heavy snowfall.

Snow is forecasted to continue for the rest of the year and into the 2022

Forecasts predict snow will continue into 2020 and beyond. 

Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada accounts for 30 percent of California’s fresh water supply in an average year, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

After the last year of snowfall that was alarmingly high at the beginning of this winter, water levels in the region are still low. 

The snowfall will likely continue through next year. Northern California will likely see rain while Sierra Nevada may see an extra 6 inches of snow by Thursday. 

High mountain snow and rain will continue to fall on Wednesday in Southern California, possibly causing flash flooding warnings.   

While the heavy snowfall may be an encouraging sign for the state to recover from the year of wildfires and dangerous droughts, it has also caused problems for many. 

Sierra Nevada has issued a travel warning for residents, advising them against all non-essential travel. 

South Lake Tahoe called the Emergency Operations Center because many resources, including gasoline, tow trucks and lodging, are running out.

The dangerously packed snow has also hindered the search for missing skier Rory Angelotta, 43, who was reported missing on Christmas when he missed dinner. 

‘For anyone to survive up there with these conditions … is very slim,’ Placer County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Powers said. “We have advised the family about that.”

The search for the manager of the local ski shop has continued, and search crews are requesting additional resources.  

The area is in desperate need of moisture after months of extreme drought and raging wildfires

This area needs water urgently after prolonged droughts and wildfires.