March dismal for Sierra snowpack
April 7, 2008
RENO, Nev. (AP) ” March brought few storms and little snow to the Sierra, leaving the snowpack below average to date, officials said.
Though spring storms could still add to the snow totals, April typically signals an end to the peak snow season.
“After January, we were looking really good, but February and March just didn’t produce anything,” said Dave Wathen, a hydrologist with the federal water master’s office in Reno.
As of Tuesday, the snowpack in the Lake Tahoe basin was 87 percent of average for the date, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service’s automated SNOTEL system.
The snowpack was 85 percent of average in the Truckee River basin, and 84 percent in the Carson River basin.
The numbers are still better than last year, when April arrived with a Sierra snowpack at less than half of what it should be.
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After a slow start, back-to-back storms in January blanketed the Sierra, boosting the snowpack to well-above-average levels. As recently as late February, the Tahoe Basin snowpack was at more than 115 percent of average.
But March ” typically the fourth largest month for snowfall ” produced Sierra snow for only few days. March precipitation measured at Tahoe City was only 25 percent of average, Wathen said.
“It’s definitely been well below normal for March,” said Scott McGuire, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.
While winter didn’t erase the deficit from a seriously dry 2007, there shouldn’t be any major problems with water supplies, officials said.
Normal flows of the Truckee River are expected through the summer. Lake Tahoe ” the river system’s largest reservoir ” should rise at least a foot between now and late June, said Bill Hauck, water supply coordinator for the Truckee Meadows Water Authority.