The early months of the wintertime were great for Nevada's water supply. In fact, at the end of December, snowpack levels were twice as much as normal. That's all changed, though, after back-to-back dry months.
The latest snowpack levels are about 90% of average for the year. And February was just 10% of average.
It's what hydrologists expected, but it's not what they were hoping for, just two months ago, after snow storms pounded the Sierra.
"That's unreasonable to think we would maintain that base but to drop down below average this quick, this fast, that's just unheard of," says Dan Greenlee.
The good news is there is enough water storage in the reservoirs to last the rest of the year. The rain added six inches of water on the Lake Tahoe, late last year.
But the water in the mountains is just as important.
"One of the good things is it saturated the soil. We had rain first, then the snow came. So, the soil is saturated underneath the snowpack. That should help us out this year."
These guys say they are hoping we can avoid a second dry year in a row - which would be bad news for farmers and ranchers.
The U.S. Drought Monitor says 60% of Nevada is seeing severe or extreme drought conditions.
"The fellows that are going to take it hard are the Ag.. community, one more time. Carson Valley that gets all their water out of the river, Lovelock area with the reservoir stage not so good. Lahontan Reservoir is not in as good of shape," says Greenlee.
And that leaves some optimism that a so-called Miracle March could help the snowpack rebound.
"Need one of those big Sierra slammers coming in, piling up the snow, and we'll be doing okay. But right now, not so much," says Greenlee.
Water Master Chad Blanchard adds, "I'm not giving up hope. There's still time. We can still get some storms come in and save the year."
"We're hoping for a 100 inch March!" Ski resorts say more snow could extend the season for them. They say they could always use more snow, but they're doing okay as it is.
"Skiing here is great. We got enough snow in December to cover everything. Coverage is still good up here at Mt. Rose and skiing has been good. Just no new snow," says Mike Pierce of Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe.
Hydrologists are hoping if we get five or six more feet of this, then we should be right back up on average for the year. The next snowpack survey will be in April.
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