RENO, NV - A light snow was falling as we made our way east from the summit. No snowshoes were required on the last survey of this year--not a good sign of things to come either immediately down the hill or further into spring and summer.
With technology that is more than one hundred years old, the hollow tubes and weights measure not only how much snow, but more importantly how much water is contained in that snow
“You've got the stuff where you are sinking into your waist. That's really light and fluffy stuff. Its fantastic to recreate in but it doesn't give you a lot of water,” says hydrologist Dan Greenlee.
Greenlee says automated stations at thirty locations in the area have already pretty much told him what he needs to know.
The manual check keeps the automated stations honest.
The mood is much different down here than it was in January when Greenlee related how difficult it would be to fall a below average year.
“This site we are probably about 2/3rds of the way to an average snow pack year. So that's not bad, it would be pretty hard to end up below average at this point,” said Greenlee four months ago.
But Greenlee knows up here in the Sierra there's no such sure thing.
At 8800 feet we aren't going too bad, but take the region as a whole, and the months of April, May, June and on into the summer, Greenlee says we aren't doing any better than last year.
Officially Greenlee says our snow pack is about 60% of normal.