Snow Pack Lagging, We Need A Strong Finish To Winter

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Our winter started fast.

Snow flew, ski resorts opened early and it seemed as if nature was going to make up for last season's drought. Then all that promise seemed to evaporate.

"All this 30 % chance of snow, 10% chance of snow, couple inches here, a dusting there, just hasn't done much for us," says Dan Greenlee of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Greenlee is making the trek to various Sierra snow survey sites this week to manually measure the snow pack, but he already knows what he will find.

According to automated measurements the water content of the snow pack in the Truckee River drainage has fallen below 80 percent today. It's even lower in the Tahoe Basin. The Carson and Walker River drainages are hovering just above.

That may not sound startling until you remember what last year left us.

"Last year we were sitting at about the seventh driest year we've probably had in a 100 years," says Greenlee. "So, back to back dry years makes for a little more impact."

So, what we need now in the next month or so is a strong finish.

"March if it came back strong, a couple of big storms could get us back to average."

Now, if we don't get those big storms it doesn't mean the Truckee will stop flowing or our taps will run dry this summer, but that's not to say there won't be impacts.

For one thing, back to back dry years will raise the danger of wildfires and then there those whose very livelihood depends on the snow pack.

The Ag community as usual will likely feel the most impacts from this," says Greenlee. "They're the biggest water users."

The next few weeks will likely tell the tale and northern Nevada weather is nothing if not changeable.

So we should pray for a Miracle March?

"That would be nice," says Greenlee. "Pray for more snow."