Recent rain replenishes reservoirs | SierraSun.com
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Recent rain replenishes reservoirs

Nick Cruit
Sierra Sun

TAHOE BASIN “-While a storm pattern of rain and slushy snow makes for poor ski conditions, the recent wet weather helps instantly replenish reservoirs parched by drought conditions and adds much needed water content to the existing snowpack, scientists say.

As precipitation falls during winter months, the snowpack absorbs and traps a certain amount of rain and snow depending on how dense the snowpack is with water. In a storm system like the current one, wet, heavy snow and rainfall offer far more water content than the light, fluffy snow associated with the storms of previous weeks.

“It’s certainly not very fun to ski in rain or slush, but it does have a higher water content, and from a water standpoint, that’s good news,” said Brian Brong, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

Thanks to a series of active weather patterns, snow water equivalent in the Sierra snowpack has increased 12 percent in February; good news considering January was one of the driest winter months on record.

Still, scientists warn that we’re not out of the woods just yet.

“The last few systems have helped, but looking at the big picture we’re still pretty far below where we need to be,” Brong said.

Currently, the snowpack in Lake Tahoe is 79 percent of average while the snow water equivalent is 75 percent.

The good news is that rainfall helps directly replenish water levels for lakes and reservoirs that would otherwise not see much moisture during winter months, Brong said.

As for ski resorts, mixed conditions were reported over the last few days.

“We’ve received 2 to 8 inches in the past 24 hours,” said Kayla Anderson, Marketing Coordinator for Diamond Peak Ski Resort. “Yesterday (Sunday) it was a little wet at the bottom but snowing mid-mountain.”

More wet weather is expected through the week as another storm is forecast to bring snow showers to the Sierra Wednesday afternoon through Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service.


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