Area Snowpack Levels Remain Low - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Area Snowpack Levels Remain Low

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Our recent snowstorm dropped about a foot of snow in most areas of the mountains. But when it comes to our snowpack, we've still got a long way to go before we get back to normal.

"Typically, this time of year, we would expect to see the snowpack much above this fence. Actually, roughly just over the top of my head," says Beau Uriona, Acting Water Supply Specialist, Nevada.

The snowpack telemetry sight only has an average of 24 inches of snow. Most of it fell in the last few days. "This storm is very important. Any water we can get, right now, is very important for the region. But we're really going to need to see storm systems set up like this in the future if we want to fill up those reservoirs in the summer."

Unfortunately, that was the only significant storm we had in January. A month that's traditionally the wettest month of the year for the Sierra. "Not having any precip in the January month really made it hard to get back to a normal condition."

The purpose of the snow survey is to see how much water content is in the snow. In the west, 80% of our water comes from snowpack -- which usually peaks by April. "Even though you have 50 inches by the end of the year, you might only have 10 inches or so of water within that snowpack."

Not only is there a shortage of snow -- but it's not very dense either - 14% of it is water. "Average of 3.4 inches of snow water equivalent."

Since it's been so dry, some of that water will soak into the ground and some will flow into our water supply. "A bad snow year and especially a drought situation where you have multiple bad snow years can lead to serious problems."

Hydrologists are hopeful that February will bring some heavy snow to help replace some of the water lost during the drought. "Unless we get some storm systems coming in here to bring up the snowpack, we're going to be looking at very low reservoir levels."

Right now, we're sitting at about 25% for our snowpack and in order to get back to the average levels, we're going to need about 250% of average over the next two months.

Written by Paul Nelson

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