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Sierra Nevada snowpack improves to 93 percent of average in March 2018

Kelsie Longerbeam
Jeff Anderson, hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Services, measures the snowpack on Mt. Rose on Monday.
Kelsey Longerbeam / Nevada Appeal

MT. ROSE — March 2018 will go down as the fourth largest March snow total since 1980.

The snowfall amount was confirmed Monday from measuring the snowpack with Jeff Anderson, hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Services.

Monday’s snowpack was 101 inches of snow depth and 34.2 inches of water content, which is 93 percent of the median amount. For the Carson Basin, snowpack on March 1 was at 36 percent of median spring peak amount, and increased by 46 percent to 82 percent median spring peak by April 1.

“So if you melt down all these inches of snow, you’d be standing in almost 3 feet of water,” Anderson said on a sunny spring day. “We definitely had a miracle March. Just last month, on March 1, the snowpack here at Mt. Rose was only 48 percent of the median peak, so it almost doubled in one month.”

The classic “Miracle March” example was back in 1991. Snowpacks in the Sierra were just 15 percent of normal on March 1, 1991, and increased by 70 percent by April 1. This year had similar numbers to 1991. Snowpacks in the basins were 32 percent of the median peak on March 1 and increased to 77 percent by April 1.

The biggest recorded Miracle March was in 1995 with a snow water increase of 27.5 inches. That year there was a 60-70 percent increase.

Even with the increases in March, snowpacks across the Tahoe region and across the rest of Nevada still are slightly below average. But Anderson doesn’t seem to worried.

“This means we are going to see a lot more water coming down our rivers and into the lakes and what not, and that’s really great news. And not only did the Sierra see a pretty great bump in the snowpack, but also the rest of Nevada did too … it’s good news for all of Nevada,” said Anderson.

“The saving grace of this year is the snow from last year, which kept our reservoirs really high. And now we’re in a situation where the reservoirs are going to be great again for this summer.”

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