PHILLIPS _ When the chief of California’s snow measurements conducts his manual surveys, he usually does it in style, skimming the snow in cross-country skis as reporters plod behind him in snowshoes.
No need this time. The vast meadow around Phillips, a remote spot near Echo Summit, was mostly grass and dirt Wednesday, with pitifully small patches of snow. Frank Gehrke, the Department of Water Resources employee who runs the survey, wore simple winter boots as he walked the 200-yard course off Highway 50 to complete the first official snow survey of the season.
When the measurements were done, Gehrke reported the dismal numbers: just 1.3 inches of snow on average, and a “snow water content” of 0.4 inches. That was 3 percent of average for early January.