WETLAB Western Environmenal Testing Laboratory
Serving Nevada, California, Idaho and Wyoming
Sparks (775) 355-0202
Elko (775) 340-3173
Las Vegas (702) 475-8899
WETLAB BLOG
14
JAN
2013

Sierra Snowpack Water Content Off To A Strong Start!

Sierra Snowpack water content off to a strong start!

Measuring snow depth with GPS

Measuring snow depth with GPS (Photo credit: WSDOT)

It’s that time of year again – the time when intrepid snow surveyors head out into the Sierra Nevada Mountains to assess how much water is stored in the winter’s snowpack.

California Department of Water Resources surveyors went out for the first look at the end of December and confirmed what we all expected – there’s a lot of water already stored in the snow, ready to flow downstream to Nevada and California in the spring.

The Central Sierra region, which includes the Truckee River – the primary water source for the Reno-Sparks region, holds 112 percent of normal water content for this date, and 53 percent of the yearly total measured April 1st each year.

The Northern Sierra reports 117 percent and 56 percent for those two stats, and the Southern Sierra shows 109 percent and 47 percent, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

After last winter’s dry spell, some in Nevada are still cautious, however.

According to a Reno Gazette Journal article, Federal Watermaster Jim Shaw told the Walker River Irrigation District Board to be cautious, with some long term forecasts showing below normal precipitation for January through March.

Frank Gehrke, chief snow surveyor for the California Department of Water Resources, shared the same caution in a San Francisco Chronicle article.

“We’ve got a real good start to the year, but still three months to go where we need to have more snow,” he said in the article. “From a skier’s standpoint, it’s gorgeous. You can’t get much better in California than we’ve got now. The thing that is always on our minds, though, is whether this sunny weather will keep up for long.”

Still, things look a lot better than last year, according to the article, with 4 feet of snow measured by Gehrke (1 foot of water content) this year, compared to 4 inches of snow – 0.14 inches of water – for the same time last year.

So the bottom line is this – we’re off to a good start, but let’s keep our fingers crossed for more snow to come!

Measuring snow depth with style

Measuring snow depth with style (Photo credit: WSDOT)

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About the Author
Western Environmental Testing Laboratory (WETLAB) is an environmental testing laboratory based in Sparks, Nevada. We believe our people and their commitment to our clients are what make our lab great.

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