Photo: Joel Pollak

California’s record-setting snow pack is set to have a massive impact on the recreational water sports industry. The total snowpack this winter for California’s southern Sierra Nevada mountain range has hit 286% of normal — the highest since records began. According to snow survey data from the Department of Water Resources, this is going to translate into full lakes, rivers and reservoirs. With the gradual melting of the snow pack will have both full lakes and the ability to supply water to the region’s farms and urban areas.

“As of Friday, the snowpack in the southern Sierra Nevada was at 286% of normal — the highest figure ever, easily eclipsing the region’s benchmark of 263% set in 1969.”

The snow pack has already started to melt, and the increase in water levels in California’s reservoirs is creating some exciting opportunities for wakeboarding and wakesurfing enthusiasts. Anticipating the melt of the massive snowpack in the southern Sierras, the Bureau of Reclamation is being slow to let the lakes fill to capacity as they need to plan for a warming trend in the spring with reservoir water levels at a manageable level in the case that there is a rain and warming trend that sends flood waters from the mountains. All of that is good news, as there is tons of water this spring.


Summer Lake

Photo: Garrett Cortese

Just a few months ago, water levels at Shasta Lake were at 31 percent capacity and meteorologists were painting another bleak rain season. Fast forward to spring 2023 and Shasta Lake is expected to top 100% of average in the weeks ahead. Snowpack provides 30 percent of California’s freshwater and plays a critical role in the replenishment of reservoir levels when it melts and increases streamflows in the spring and early summer. It looks to be an epic summer of houseboating and water activities.

“Statewide, the snowpack is at 228% of normal, hovering near the record level set in the April 1 survey of 1952, 237% of average. The level during the annual April 1 snow survey in 1983 was 227%.”

Increased boat sales are expected as a result of this snowpack, with many families eager to explore local waterways that have been at historic lows for over 5 years. Whether it is wakeboarding, wakesurfing, foiling, water skiing, fishing, or simply taking in the scenery, there is something for everyone in our lakes and rivers.