The Nevada Irrigation District has released the findings of this year’s last local snowpack measurement — and the numbers are not good. NID is asking all customers to reduce their water usage accordingly.
As of April 30, current snowpack is at 16 percent of average for this time of year. That’s down from the previous assessment at the beginning of April, which was 35 percent.
This week, NID found an average water content of 4.7 inches after taking measurements at five different snow courses. The May 1 average for these locations is 29.1 inches.
Bowman Reservoir, at 5,650 feet, received 125 percent of average precipitation for April based on previous years — but as of Wednesday, all the snow at that location had already melted.
“Even though we got above-average rain and precipitation, the snow melted off quicker,” said NID spokesman Dave Carter.
That melting snow led to increased river levels, and the district’s reservoirs are currently at 82 percent of capacity, or 109 percent of average for this time of year.
“The district’s water storage increased in April because of early snowmelt, but the reservoirs will begin to go down soon,” said NID Water Operations Administrator Sue Sindt.
“Carryover water storage for next year is a serious concern. We’re continuing to ask all customers to reduce water use by 15 percent.”
Based on projections from the Climate Prediction Center, forecasters with the National Weather Service in Sacramento say that rapid snowmelt is likely to continue due to above normal temperatures over the next three months. Evaporation could also have an impact.
“The snowpack was very poor,” said meteorologist Eric Kurth. “It improved some in these late storms, but not very much. And with the warmth, we’re losing what we have very quickly.”
“If you don’t have a snowpack to build on already, it goes away pretty quickly,” Kurth added. “If you have layers of snow that you’re building on, it’s more apt to build up and remain for longer.
“I would say that’s the issue with these later storms,” he said. “They’re just not able to linger as long.”
Earlier this week, Kurth released an infographic indicating that, based on measurements at Donner Pass, this has been the least snowy winter on record.
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“Carryover water storage for next year is a serious concern.”
NID Water Operations Administrator Sue Sindt