Late Winter Storms Boost Kings River Water Supply To Near Normal Seasonal Conditions


FRESNO, CALIFORNIA: IT WASN’T EXACTLY A MIRACLE BUT LATE WINTER storms provided repeated snowfall events that draped much of the Kings River’s watershed in white. While far less than overall snow totals that piled up during the Kings’ all-time record 2022-23 water year, last month’s storms boosted the snowpack’s frozen supply to 90% of normal for April 1. That is the date upon which Sierra Nevada snow conditions are expected to reach their peak for the season.

“It was a good March, and it increased our Kings River water supply assuring better deliveries for our users,” said Steve Haugen, KRWA watermaster and Kings River Water Association manager. “February did well for us, but March was much needed.”

The February 1 snow survey found Kings River snowpack water content at 76%. This spring’s 90% water content was confirmed earlier this week as KRWA, Pacific Gas and Electric and National Park Service personnel completed measuring remote high Sierra courses for the statewide California Cooperative Snow Survey.

The March and April figures were a fraction of snow depth and water content readings found during April 1, 2023, snow surveys. A year ago, Haugen said, the Kings snowpack contained 261% of water content. Last year’s snow survey teams, in measuring 22 remote courses, found record-setting snow depths at 21 locations and highest-ever water content readings on 16 of the courses.

Water Year 2022-2023 provided Kings River farm-water users and homes and businesses with an all-time record supply of some 4.5 million acre-feet of runoff. That amount was enough to fill Pine Flat Reservoir 4½ times.

This year’s snow depths averaged just under 28 inches at the end of January compared with 17.2 inches in an average winter. As January concluded in 2023, snow surveyors found an average of 113 inches already on the ground, with three of the snow courses last year measuring more than 150 inches. The Kings River snowpack in 2023 averaged 241% of historical February 1 average.

Haugen said snowpack data collected during the winter and spring months is vital to downstream San Joaquin Valley water agencies and users in portions of Fresno, Tulare, and Kings counties for whom the Kings River is the primary source of water.

KRWA’s staff is awaiting DWR data from Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) flights over the Kings watershed.

“This detailed aerial snow depth information, coupled with the snow survey and modeling efforts, will give water managers precise accounting of snowpack conditions,” KRWA Assistant Watermaster Matthew Meadows said.

While recent media regarding statewide water conditions show the State as a whole is above average, locally the Kings River watershed is on the drier side of average.  “We still need average or above precipitation in the watershed to maintain the forecast runoff numbers,” Haugen said


For more information, please contact:

Steve Haugen

Kings River Watermaster


559-266-0767 office


Randy McFarland

Public Information Consultant