Final Snow Survey Reveals Below-Average Snowpack - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Final Snow Survey Reveals Below-Average Snowpack

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The Sierra is again a giant, frozen well…holding our water as snow until it melts. The final chapter was written above, up high where the water counts most. There for his 21st year, hydrologist Dan Greenlee didn't expect much, telling us, "No. No, not a whole lot more than what we were measuring on January 1st."

The Mt. Rose summit is where we found out how big of a snow season it really was. There was no feeling of celebration this time…the mood a bit more ominous after a dramatically dry March. As Greenlee put it, "I've really seen the numbers drop off in the last couple of months, so it's been a pretty sad bleak end to the year right now."

A decent snow bounty measurement was unlikely. The thinly-covered hills up where we were at 8,800 feet revealed light Pacific moisture…certainly no "Miracle March". The trek to the measurement site was unusual…this time no snowshoes were required.

At the measurement site, the first clue came from the same time-tested method that hasn't changed since 1906: the tube in the snow to measure the snow depth. After the depth is measured, the pole is weighed. That fills out the picture…the heavier the snow is, the wetter.

When the survey was over, Greenlee told us it was all "Pretty much bad news. About 6 feet of snow up here and 30 inches of water content. That's under average for this time of year."

Area-wide, the totals look like this: Mt. Rose is at 83% of average. The Walker Basin is at 71%, while the Carson River is holding at 67%. The Truckee Basin has some catching up to do at 60%, and Tahoe stands at close to half...only 52%. Overall, the legacy from last winter and early spring is lackluster, with little time to catch up. Greenlee says, "We'll make it through another summer, no sweat on that, but it's just pretty disappointing. It's just not the year we wanted to have."

Altogether, a bad omen for our water supply as the final snowpack measurement of the season closes the book, on what is typically our wettest time of year.

-written by John Potter

You can see a more specific breakdown of the current snowpack measurements here:

On Tuesday, April 2nd TMWA released this statement:

According to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) officials, snowpack in the Truckee River Basin finished the year at well below average.  This marks the second consecutive dry year for the Truckee River watershed.  As the water purveyor for 330,000 residents of the Reno/Sparks area, Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) closely monitors the snowpack and our region's water supply. Despite the continued dry cycle, the Truckee River is projected to flow normally for the rest of the year, enabling TMWA to meet the water needs of customers.

"We plan for a nine year drought, which is one year longer than the longest drought on record, and with our extensive network of upstream storage reservoirs, we will be able to meet the needs of our customers without having to utilize our reserves this summer," Bill Hauck, senior hydrologist for TMWA, said. "Our upstream reservoir storage is how we are able to manage through dry years, like this, and their importance cannot be stressed enough."

In addition to drought reserves in upstream reservoirs, TMWA also has a series of 32 production wells located throughout the Truckee Meadows, which can be used to meet customer demand during extreme periods of drought where river flows drop off. However, these production wells will not be used this year as it will be business as usual for TMWA and our customers this summer.

Customers are always encouraged to use water responsibly and to use the weather as their guide for outdoor water use. Assigned watering days remain the same this year as for the last several years. If the last number of your home or business address is:

  • Even (0, 2, 4, 6 or 8), run the sprinklers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
  • Odd (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9, run the sprinklers on Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays
  • Shut your sprinklers off between noon and 6 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day
  • Also, give your sprinklers a rest on Mondays, as it is a day to replenish and maintain our water system

Weather-Wise watering tips and free workshop information as well as how to contact a Conservation Specialist are all available at

From Truckee Meadows Water Authority

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