Sierra snowpack at end of December at 200 percent |

Sierra snowpack at end of December at 200 percent

Nevada Appeal Staff Report
Jim Grant / Nevada AppealGene VanSickle uses a snow blower to remove nearly six inches of snow from the driveway of a foothills home on Wednesday morning.

Snow enthusiasts across the Sierra have good reason to rejoice in the new year because the snowpack is already at 200 percent of normal and it’s only December.Part of that precipitation came from an unusually wet December, which has seen almost a doubling of the average amount of precipitation of 1 inch, at 1.92 inches.“It’s double what we should have for the month,” Meteorologist Brian Brong with the National Weather Service said.Although the superior ski season could sour into sorrowful slush, chances are the 200 percent above average snowpack will make an exceptional base for skiers.“We’ve started the wettest period of the year,” Brong said, which runs from November until March with the highest concentrations of precipitation typically bombarding the hills and valleys between December and February.The higher-than-average levels of precipitation contrast starkly to last year’s levels. Last December was a first: No rain fell on the monitoring station in Reno. This year, 1.92 inches have already fallen, well above the average of an inch of water for the month.Although last year may have been incredibly dry, 2010 was a “really incredible winter,” Brong said.“We were able to hold onto the water” through reservoirs which lasted well into the dry winter of late 2011 and early 2012.“We had a wet year followed by a dry year,” he said.Last season, too, the area went seven months with only a half inch of precipitation. All the snow has brought the region scary driving conditions, especially through Washoe Valley. Between midnight and 10 a.m. Wednesday, 18 vehicles had crashed in the northern Nevada area, although none of them carried more than minor injuries, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.Many cars spun out of control — and off of the freeway — while driving too fast on ice, snow or slush,“Please increase your following distance with other vehicles,” said NHP spokesman Trooper Chuck Allen. “There is a very likely chance to experience icy conditions during the late afternoon and evening commutes as temperatures decrease below the freezing mark.”