Snow Pack Survey

By: Auburn Hutton
By: Auburn Hutton

After nearly a week's worth of wintry weather, better news was expected from the Sierra as water experts conducted their March snow survey.

The snow pack helped bring water levels up tremendously these past few weeks, but with such a slow start this winter, it will take almost a miracle to get completely back on track.

"We've seen as bad or worse, but unfortunately we've also seen a heck of a lot better," said Dan Greenlee of Natural Resources Conservation Services.

Mount Rose's snow pack is measuring out in the bottom 30% of average for this time of year, not ideal, but good news for some.

"It's not necessarily great for our drinking supply. It's certainly a good shot in the arm for our ski areas up here. Four feet of powder is a gift from heaven for those folks," said Greenlee.

State Water Master, Garry Stone is keeping track of levels off the slopes. He says the storm has provided a major turnaround for some pretty desperate conditions. Storms brought Truckee River levels up to about 73% of average and Lake Tahoe sky rocketed to 64%. Stone says the improvement is huge, but in order to bring levels back to 100%, we still need seven more feet of fresh snow.

"It can happen overnight, over a period of 2 or 3 days, we could be right back at average again. Seven feet of snow sounds like a lot of snow, and it is, but it can happen. It just did."

All the recent snow may have crushed predictions of many, those with concern about the national global warming controversy. While Stone says he'll leave climate change up to the experts, here locally, a winter with a slow beginning, could turn around overnight.

"It usually comes in a big storm. It's amazing, if you look at history and how often our snowpack is built up like this last storm just did in a matter of a few days of heavy storm," said Stone.

While the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe are way up from their levels prior to the storm, other water sources in northern Nevada could still use a little more moisture.

April 1st usually the cutoff date for more expected snowfall...so there's still plenty of time for another storm.


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