Snow Pack Levels Above Average

By: Auburn Hutton Email
By: Auburn Hutton Email

Whoever said being "average" is a bad thing? Local water managers say when it comes to our current snow pack levels, being "average" is great news!

The first Mount Rose snow pack survey of 2008 shows we are at "average" snow pack levels, in fact, we're even slightly above average. In comparison to last year's bone-dry winter, hydrologists say this is very good news.

Hydrologists had to snowshoe into the survey site, through thigh-high snow pack conditions, just to get an accurate reading.

A hollow pole filled with the recent storm's snowfall is used to measure what mother nature delivered last week. They first read the depth and density of the snow...then they weigh the pole full and empty. When they subtract the two measurements, it tells us how many inches we got in water.

"Just a week ago, we were at two feet depth. Now we are sitting on six feet of snow right now. That essentially doubled our water content in the snow," said Dan Greenlee, Hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Services.

The newly fallen snow translates to about a foot of water...a swift recovery! Hydrologists say before the storm, we were at about 50% of average...so the dumping across the Sierra is exactly what we needed.

"To catch up in just a matter of days is pretty extreme. This just got us back up to where we should be this time of year," added Greenlee.

A time of year when water specialists aren't the only ones praying for more snow.

"We got fresh tracks, shredded some pow, it's pretty sick. It covered up the base so you don't hit any rocks," snowboarder, Justin Bobal of Reno.

So now that we're back at "average" snow levels, what will to it take to keep us there? Hydrologists say a good storm, at least once a week, should do the trick.

"The percent of average is a changing value. It changes everyday and as your reach April 1st and max out. Everyday you don't get snow, your percent of average drops a little bit," said Greenlee.

So while snow surveyors say they were very happy with the results of today's measurement...we still need about four times more snowfall by April 1st, in order to end up with an "average" year by the time winter is over. The next survey will be sometime after the first of February.


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