RENO — The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s March Water Supply Outlook report states Nevada’s water supply “is in great shape.”
The report stated January and February 2017 produced heavy rainfall and then there was the March Miracle of snowfall in 2018. The report stated February 2019 turned into another record setter.
“February 2019 produced staggering snowfall totals, incredibly light powder, lots of shoveling, and plans to keep ski lifts running past Independence Day. NRCS snow surveyors sampled snow 13.5 feet deep at Mt. Rose Ski Area SNOTEL,” said NRCS Nevada State Hydrologist Jeff Anderson. “NRCS data shows that a number of SNOTEL and snow courses across the region set new records for the biggest increase in snow water for the month of February,”
Snowpacks across the state have already exceeded median peak amounts and Nevada’s water supply is in great shape, the report stated. Across Northern Nevada, streamflow forecasts are far above average and forecasted volumes are well beyond the amount needed to fill reservoirs. The report stated streams should have prolonged high flows and snow to linger on the mountains into summer with elevated streamflow through late summer and fall, keeping reservoir carryover storage high for the following season as well.
Conditions in the report are based on data through March 1.
Squaw Valley ski resort in the Tahoe region set a new monthly snowfall record at 315 inches. At Mt. Rose Ski Area SNOTEL, snowfall was recorded by the snow pillow 24 out of 28 days last month. SNOTEL and snow course measurements saw record or near record increases in snow water between February 1 and March 1. March 1 basin snowpacks are: 164-172 percent of median in the Sierra basins (Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Carson and Walker) and 128-145 percent of median across the rest of Northern Nevada.
The report stated even if there’s no more snow, all of Northern Nevada has already achieved an above normal winter.
Precipitation amounts in February ranked second highest or highest on record at a number of SNOTEL sites across the region. Monthly precipitation in February was twice normal across the Northern Great Basin, Humboldt, and Clover Valley basins, bringing water year totals to 110-123 percent of average. The Owyhee Basin and Eastern Nevada had slightly less than twice normal for the month and have water year totals at 108 percent and 124 percent respectively. Precipitation was nearly three times the monthly average in the Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Carson and Walker basins, bringing water year totals to 133-146 percent of average. These amounts are already 90-97 percent of the average annual total in these eastern Sierra basins.
Streamflow forecasts for most of Nevada increased 40 to 70 percent from Feb. 1 forecasts to March 1 forecasts. March 1 streamflow forecasts are now greater than 160 percent of average in the Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Carson and Walker Basins. Forecasts in the Humboldt Basin range from 115-150 percent of average. Forecasts in Eastern Nevada are between 115-125 percent. The Colorado River Lake Powell Inflow forecast is 108 percent.
To learn more go online at www.nv.nrcs.usda.gov. RCS Nevada’s Snow Survey website is www.nv.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/.