Western Nevada fall precipitation ahead of normal

A Nevada climatologist has told the governor’s Drought Forum fall precipitation is ahead of normal in the valleys of western Nevada and “right around normal” in the mountains.

“We’ve really had a kind of wet summer up here in Northern Nevada,” said State Climatologist Doug Boyle. “The main message is that, in the lower valley areas, we seem to be seeing above normal precipitation for the water year so far.”

Boyle said total fall rainfall at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport thus far is more than three inches.

“That puts us somewhere between 200 and 250 percent of normal,” he said.

He said that’s true of valley areas across northern and western Nevada. In the mountains, he said 3-5 inches of water at Mount Rose is “right at normal and about 10 percent of what we need for the entire water year.”

The Reno precipitation, he said, is just about half what’s needed for the year.

While “we’re right where we want to be,” Boyle said it’s still too early to predict a heavy winter.

“There’s quite a bit of uncertainty whether we’re going to get a wetter than average year,” he said, adding those predictions are based on El Niño conditions.

“The El Niño conditions are continuing to increase in strength,” he said. “The thought is this could be the third strongest El Niño we’ve seen historically.”

But Boyle said surprisingly, “the storms we’ve seen so far this year don’t seem to be El Niño related at all.”

“They’re all coming from the north,” he said.

He made the report at the meeting of the Governor’s Drought Forum at the Capitol Guinn Room.

The National Weather Service in Reno has also predicted another storm is headed toward the Sierra this week.

“There is still the outside chance that the low could track farther west, which would add moisture from the ocean to the system and allow for heavier snowfall,” NWS posted on Facebook. “It still looks very cold, so snow levels will be at all valley floors with high snow ratios and light fluffy snow expected. This means that snow totals could still add up faster than usual, despite the lower moisture amounts, especially if lake effect snow bands develop off Pyramid and Tahoe. The best travel days for Thanksgiving other than Monday are either Thursday or Friday.”

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