First snow survey of season shows below-normal pack

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) For the last 38 years this has been going on on Mt. Rose --samples of snow are taken and weighed to measure the amount of snowpack and the water contained within that snow.

The first snow survey of the 2017-18 snow season. Photo by Terri Russell/KOLO.

"36 inches of snow depth, 11 inches of water content within that snow, so if you were to melt it down that's how much water you would get out of it. And right now for this time of year that is 84% of the normal amount for this date," Jeff Anderson, a USDA hydrologist, announced.

The snow you see at Rose and on the ski trials has been here since November. That's when this mountain saw the most significant snowfall of this season so far.

Mt. Rose may paint the best picture in the Sierra; the Tahoe Basin is seeing only 30% of normal--the third lowest since 1981.

Of bigger concern, there is even less snow lower than eight thousand feet, where the snowpack is 25% percent of normal.

"You want those bigger low snowpacks just so you have more surface area, and more surface to melt when the spring water is coming off," says Chad Blanchard, the U.S. Water Master.

There have been readings in previous years where the first snow survey has been well above normal, only to have no further snow fall the rest of the season.

But Anderson likes pointing out between January 1 and the 4th of 2017, our snow pack went from what we have right now, 84%, to 132% of normal. The Tahoe Basin saw a 67% increase in that time, to 129% of normal.

There have also been miracle Marches There is still time.