California snow levels above normal for a second month

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(Reuters) - Winter storms and cool weather have resulted in slightly more snow than usual accumulating in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains for a second month in a row, state data show.

The snowpack, which the state counts on to melt in the spring to fill reservoirs and streams, hit normal levels for the first time in three years last month and has held fast throughout January, according to electronic measurements by the California Department of Water Resources.

The snowpack level has raised hopes that a wet winter, fueled in part by the weather and oceanic pattern El Nino, will make a dent in California’s four-year-old drought, which has parched the most populous U.S. state and cost billions to its agricultural sector.

The water content of snow in the mountains was 113 percent of normal statewide on Wednesday. Wetter weather in the northern mountains left the snowpack there at 125 percent of normal, whereas in the drier southern part of the state it was at 96 percent.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Leslie Adler