Storm unlikely to aid snowpack | SierraSun.com

Storm unlikely to aid snowpack

Annie Flanzraich
Sun news service

A small late season storm predicted to affect Lake Tahoe and Reno today won’t significantly raise the lake level or snowpack, officials said.

“It certainly can’t hurt, it’s not going to put a huge dent into the deficit,” said Jim Ashby, a climatologist with the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno.

The National Weather Service predicted anywhere from five to 10 inches of snow above 7,000 feet, said Alex Hoon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“It’s really not so weird,” Hoon said. “Usually we get one or two of these late season storms kind of coming through the Tahoe area.”

But the precipitation probably will not raise the snowpack or lake level.

The Lake Tahoe Basin snowpack is at about 64 percent of normal, Ashby said. At that level, the area is still considered to be in a drought, he said. At the height of the storms that hit Tahoe in January and February, Ashby said the snowpack was at about 11 percent of normal.

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The lake level was also not drastically affected by the heavy precipitation ” in fact, it’s down five hundredths of an inch since the height of the precipitation earlier this year, said Federal Watermaster Garry Stone.

“The lake didn’t show any increase,” Stone said. “We believe the snow that has melted has gone into the ground because last year was so dry. It could have also evaporated.”

He said the lake is predicted to have a one foot net gain over the summer, still below the average of 1.4 feet.

“We need much more than an average year to sustain the lake level we talk about when we say ‘filling the reservoir,'” Stone said.

Lake levels could hit 6226.01 feet after evaporation, runoff and release schedules are accounted for.

“We say every little bit helps, but we need a big storm to change anything and it’s so late in the year I don’t expect that to happen,” Stone said.