Sierra Nevada snow pack at 73% of average
April 4, 2012
The mountain snow pack is holding 73 percent of average water content for this time of year, the Nevada Irrigation District reported on Wednesday (Apr. 4).
In the official April 1 snow survey, a key indicator of water availability for the coming year, NID snow surveyors found an average water content of 25.1 inches, which equals 73 percent of the 34.2-inch historic average for Apr. 1.
While in the normal range, the water content in this year’s snow pack is less than half of the near record snow pack of a year ago when NID snow surveyors measured 187 percent of average water content.
“This year’s water supply conditions have improved significantly due to the wet month of March,” said NID Operations Supv. Sue Sindt. “The most significant improvement has been in the snow pack. The water content has almost doubled from a month ago when it was only at 38 percent.”
“Rollins, Combie and Scotts Flat are full and spilling,” she said. “The district expects to be able to make full deliveries this season and is appreciative of the cooperation of our customers in conserving water.”
In the April 1 snow survey, NID snow surveyors measured snow pack depth and water content on six snow courses ranging in elevation from 4,850 feet to 7,800 feet.
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The snow surveys showed NID’s highest snow course, Webber Peak, at 7,800 feet, had 80.8 inches of snow with a water content of 29.7 inches. The English Mountain snow course (7,100 ft.) had 73.8 inches of snow with a water content of 33.9 inches.
Webber Lake (7,000 ft.) had 64.9 inches of snow with a water content of 24.2 inches. Findley Peak (6,500 ft.) had a snow pack of 60.2 inches and a 23.3-inch water content. Bowman Reservoir (5,650 ft.) had 36.6 inches of snow and a 14.5-inch water content.
At the lower division Chalk Bluff snow course (4,850 ft.) on the Deer Creek watershed, snow surveyors measured 1.9 inches of snow with a 0.6-inch water content. (The Chalk Bluff numbers are not included in the average.)
As of Mar. 31, seasonal precipitation (measured July 1-June 30) at Bowman Reservoir had reached 44.88 inches, which is 76 percent of the 125-year annual average for the date. Of the total, the month of March produced 21.86 inches of precipitation, 189 percent of the March average.
NID’s 10 reservoirs are currently holding about 202,900 acre-feet of water, which is 81 percent of capacity and 113 percent of the April 1 average. The district’s storage capacity is 250,280 acre-feet (an acre-foot equals one acre covered one foot deep).
A member of the California Cooperative Snow Survey, NID conducts three official snow surveys each year. Results of the snow surveys are used to predict water availability locally and statewide.