NID’s February snow survey of Nevada County peaks taken before big storm |

NID’s February snow survey of Nevada County peaks taken before big storm

The latest snow survey conducted by Nevada Irrigation District on Feb. 27 was very low at less than 30 percent of the average for this time of year.

But that dismal finding was not surprising, given that this February was one of the driest on record.

And the snow totals were recorded on the eve of one of the wettest storms in years, with March’s survey potentially looking much more promising.

The March survey will take place the last week of March, said NID spokeswoman Susan Lauer.

The February survey, she said, was “awkward timing, it was right before the storm.”

Typically, NID takes the snow surveys in February, March and April on the last week of the designated month, Lauer said.

“Actually, they want to do it on the first, but it’s completely weather-dependent,” she said, adding the NID staff takes a helicopter up to Bowman Lake for the measurements.

“They were trapped, they had to do it on 27th,” Lauer explained. “They realized the storm was rolling in but they couldn’t wait or they would be out of the window they shoot for.”

The staff found the average water content for the five highest elevation snow courses was 7.7 inches, 27 percent of the 28.8-inch average for this time of year.

“February was one of the driest on record; however the forecast looks promising for a wetter March,” said Sue Sindt, NID’s Water Resources Superintendent. “With the storms we are currently experiencing, I expect significant improvement in the water content (that) will be reflected in our April 1 surveys.”

Despite the lack of snowpack, NID has above-average water in storage, thanks to last year’s abundance of precipitation, Lauer said. The district’s 10 reservoirs are currently storing 236,100 acre-feet of water, which is 87 percent of capacity and 137 percent of average for this date. Total storage capacity is 270,085 acre-feet (an acre-foot is one acre covered one foot deep).

“Reservoir storage remains well above average and will help buffer the impact of a below-average snowpack,” Sindt said.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or

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