A third of the water for California's homes, industries and farms comes from the Sierra snowpack.
It melts in the spring and early summer to fill the state's streams, reservoirs and aquifers.
A snowy December has some water managers hopeful. The first manual measurement showed four feet of accumulation, containing about 12 inches of water. Frank Gehrke is with the Department of Water Resources.
Gehrke: "If you compare it to last year's measurement, same location, same time of year, we had .14 inches of snow water content, so I think that's a real good indicator of how much difference there can be each winter."