While this cold, wintery, snowy weather may be a pain to work and drive in, here in Northern Nevada, we really need it.
The snow ultimately turns into spring runoff for crops, drinking water, and recreation among other things. The first snow survey of the year occurred on Thursday to determine how 2013 is stacking up.
Anyone who does this story knows he or she will have to work for it--especially in a good snow year.
It involves snow shoeing from the west side of the summit into a small area of the Mt. Rose Ski Resort.
A little slide down the hill on the bum, and you are there.
It is one of about 30 sites Dan Greenlee and his team survey during the winter months.
Last year at this time, the results weren't very encouraging.
“It was horrible, pitiful. Just absolutely no snow. Just had a couple of sections of tubes and we were just sitting here bemoaning the fact that there was no snow last year,” says Greenlee, a hydrologist and manager of Nevada's Snow Survey Program.
There are more sophisticated snow measuring devices on site which measure snow depth and water content.
Some of it even powered by solar.
The information is accessed through a website.
But this century old technology is still important to determine what farmers, hunters, and local residents who use water can expect in the coming spring, summer, and fall.
“We go out three times a year to measure and we just fill in the data gaps within the watershed to better drive our forecasting,” says Greenlee.
The hollow tube is placed in the snow to measure just how much snow there is.
It is weighed to see the water content.
The measurements provide some encouraging news.
We are at about 190% of normal.
With the recent series of storms, the snow pack can only be described as fantastic.
But anyone who knows the Sierra, knows anything can happen.
We'll get the final outlay in the final survey in April.