Sierra snowpacks at record levels, new report says; snow will linger

Sierra Nevada snowpack graphic by MGN.
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Snowpacks in the Sierra are at record levels and snow will remain at the highest levels into summer, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service Nevada Water Supply Outlook Report dated May 1.

Snow around Marlette Lake, for instance, may not melt for another 30 to 40 days snow may last until mid-August at Leavitt Lake in Mono County, the NRCS reported. Snow could remain at the 8,800 foot level at the Mount Rose Ski Resort for 60 to 90 days. The ski resort is scheduled to close on Memorial Day weekend.

Many snow measurement sites where snow has usually melted by May 1 still had significant snow, the report said.

Snow levels at the higher altitudes tend to be higher in 2017 than they were in 1983, but 1983 had high snow levels at the lower altitudes, the report said. "This is a signature of a warming climate with snow lines moving upslope, although 2017 certainly demonstrates that big Sierra winters are still possible," the report said.

In the Sierra, more than two times the normal amount of precipitation fell in April than in a typical year. If the April precipitation did not set a record it ranked second or third, the report said. The snow not only meant more water, but a delay in snow melts.

The snowpacks on May 1 were 253 percent to 347 percent of normal in the eastern Sierra.

Streams are expected to flow at 182 percent to 424 percent of average from May to July for the Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Carson and Walker basins, the report said.