Truckee River, Northern Nevada's Prime Source of Water
RENO, NV - It helps to think of Monday's snow fall in northern Nevada as nature's tease rather than solution.
It's nice and certainly can't hurt, but it's way too little too late and almost certainly not the early beginning of a March Miracle.
"I wish it was," says Dan Greenlee of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Reno. "It's not even coming close to the miracle we need. We're going to need almost 400 %plus from here on out for the rest of March just to get to average conditions."
The last true March Miracle may have been in 1991, when a stormy month followed a winter even drier than this one.
"We went from about 15% of average on March 1 to 60 to 70% of average by the end of March." remembers Greenlee. "That's a tremendous boost for this late in the season."
So, it has happened, but history tells us it's an unlikely outcome this year. The problem is we're too far behind the curve.
Today the snow pack in the Tahoe Basin and the Truckee River drainage is about 28 percent. Our big snowfall months, December, January and February are just about behind us and March typically adds only about 10 to 15 percent of the total.
The good news?
Last winter was huge and a lot of that snow fall is still sitting in upstream lakes.
"We'll be dipping in and using last year's water for sure. That's what we'll be drinking most of the summer."
Fortunately we have that reserve on hand.
"Absolutely. We're sitting pretty up in Tahoe and our reservoirs upstream on the Truckee system."
So, this late season snow may bring a smile to the lips of the skier who doesn't want to hang it up just yet and it set a morning commuter snarling.
Either way, in the long run, where it counts for most of us, it's not going to make much difference.