Snowpack measurements reveal ‘water supply dream’ in mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe |

Snowpack measurements reveal ‘water supply dream’ in mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe

Several snowpack measurements in the past several days reflect a fact many Tahoe residents already knew: the winter of 2018-19 was a big one.

A measurement Tuesday at Phillips Station, located next to Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort, found 106.5 inches of snow, which amounts to a snow water equivalent — the depth of water that would result if all the snow melted instantaneously — of 51 inches, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The numbers are 200 percent of average for the location.

The measurements marked the four highest April reading recorded at the Phillips Station location.

That news came one day after a manual snowpack measurement at Mt. Rose in Nevada. That measurement also concluded this winter was the fourth largest in the Tahoe Basin since regular record keeping started in 1981, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The current situation in the Sierra is a dramatically different one compared to just four years ago when, as the Associated Press reported, then-Gov. Jerry Brown found a barren field at Phillips Station free from measurable snow.

“With full reservoirs and a dense snowpack, this year is practically a California water supply dream,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a press release. “However, we know our long-term water supply reliability cannot rely on annual snowpack alone. It will take an all-of-the-above approach to build resiliency for the future.”

Statewide, Sierra Nevada snowpack is 162 percent of average, according to DWR.

California has experienced more than 30 atmospheric rivers since the start of the water year, with six in February alone. The statewide snow water equivalent has nearly tripled since February 1.

While the data is good news, officials warn that spring snowmelt could lead to flooding.

“With great water supply benefits comes some risk,” Jon Ericson, DWR chief of the Division of Flood Management, said in a press release. “Based on snowpack numbers, we have the potential for some minor flooding due to melting snow so we remind folks to always stay vigilant and aware.”

The Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication of the Sierra Sun.

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