Water watchers in Northern Nevada are looking for a March “miracle” of precipitation to boost mountain snowpack levels well above normal and help the region begin recovering from four years of drought.
“Even though this year’s (mountain) snowpack is the deepest since 2011, we haven’t come close to making up the moisture deficits caused by the last four years of drought,” officials with the Natural Resources Conservation Service said in their March 1 water supply outlook report. “A ‘Miracle March,’ like in 1991, 1995 and 2011, would go a long ways towards putting a dent in these deficits.”
Storms like the March ones during those three years would boost the snowpack and precipitation well above normal by April 1, they wrote in the report.
As of March 1, snowpack levels remain near normal or above normal for this time of year despite a mostly sunny month of February, which saw only one major storm. That dry spell, according to the report, caused this year’s snowpack percentages to slide about 30 percent.
In the Lake Tahoe basin, snowpack was near normal at 96 percent of median, compared with 23 percent last year. Precipitation for the month was much below average at 31 percent, but the total precipitation from October through February was 108 percent of average.
Snowpack in Northern Nevada’s primary water source, the Truckee River Basin, stood at 89 percent of median, compared with 32 percent last year. The accumulation of perception from October through February was 97 percent of average.
The report noted that storage in reservoirs increased a bit in February. The water level in Lake Tahoe rose a little over 2 inches last month but remains 9 inches below its natural rim. The level is forecast to rise another 1.6 feet.
Overall reservoir storage along the Truckee River stands at 25 percent of capacity.