Storm helps grow snowpack but still shy of average in northern Sierra | TheUnion.com

Storm helps grow snowpack but still shy of average in northern Sierra

Kelsie Longerbeam
Special to The Union

The Natural Resources Conservation Service decided to wait out the storm a few days so it could conduct its snow survey for this season on Monday at the Mount Rose site.

Hydrologist Jeff Anderson reported 67 percent of normal snowpack on Monday, up about 12 percent from before the storm went through.

"We saw a nice increase from this storm," Anderson said.

This is the biggest storm western Nevada has seen since November, but since that storm produced a lot of rain, this storm yielded the highest snowpack. Tahoe Basin wide, there was a 12 percent bump in snowpack.

Many are wondering if there's a March Miracle on the horizon.

"Anytime you have a big storm that starts right on March 1, yeah you're setting yourself up for the potential for a miracle March … In order to get there we would need two or maybe even three more storms like the one we just had. So it would have to be a real sustained stormy month. Hopefully the storms deliver and we'll see a nice increase."

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This year is on a better trajectory than other winters, especially with this past storm, which was predicted to be one of the biggest storms of this season.

"If we can keep the storms coming, certainly we'll see the biggest month that we've seen this year, and hopefully we'll get back to that 'Miracle March' status that we saw in 1991, where the snowpack went from 20 percent to 80 percent in just one month."

Chad Blanchard, Federal Water Master for the Carson-Truckee Rivers, discussed the current river levels and the status of the region's water supply.

"The flood control levels are as high as we can be at the reservoirs at this point," said Blanchard. "We were happy not only to have the precept, but to have it fall as snow because if it falls as rain and runs off right now we can't capture it."

At this point, it doesn't look like they can store much more in the reservoirs until April 10. This is a good sign for water supply.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service installs, operates and maintains an extensive, automated network of weather stations to collect snowpack and related climatic data in the Western United States. In addition to measuring the snowpack's water content, sites also measure annual precipitation, air temperature, snow depth and soil moisture.

Kelsie Longerbeam writes for the Nevada Appeal. She can be reached at klongerbeam@nevadaappeal.com.

Basin snowpacks – change in snow percent of median pre- and post-storm

Lake Tahoe Basin increased 15 percent from 29 percent to 44 percent

Truckee Basin increased 12 percent from 42 percent to 54 percent

Carson Basin increased 16 percent from 40 percent to 56 percent

Walked Basin increased 15 percent from 39 percent to 54 percent