Snow Survey: Snowpack Looking Good but Drought Persists

Jeff Anderson_hydrologist_measuring snow_Media Day_01_04_16
Image courtesy of the NRCS.

This season’s snow depth was measured by government officials today at Mt. Rose. The snow depth is slightly above average at 54 inches, or 110 percent of the median. Last year at this time it was at 60 percent of the median.

While that’s a positive in relation to the past four years of snow accumulations, western Nevada is still considered to be in a severe or extreme drought, according to the national drought monitor.

A significant amount of snow would have to measured this season to put a noted dent in the region’s water supplies, according to Heather Emmons with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Today’s data were gathered by the NRCS at its Mt. Rose SNOTEL station. NRCS operates an extensive, automated network of SNOTEL weather stations to collect snowpack and related climatic data in the Western United States.

According to NRCS, “The system evolved from NRCS’s Congressional mandate in the mid-1930’s ‘to measure snowpack in the mountains of the West and forecast the water supply.’ The program began with manual measurements of snow courses. Data are reported by radio each hour and available on the internet. The high-elevation locations and the broad coverage of the network provide important data used by water managers, farmers, recreationists, researchers and emergency managers for natural disasters such as floods and droughts.”

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More Data

Statistics courtesy of NRCS:

  • Snow depth at Mt. Rose today: 54 inches
  • Water content: 15.9 inches
  • This is 110% of the median
  • Last year on this day, we were at 8.5 inches of water content; 60% of median

In the river basins:

  • Truckee is 107% of median
  • Lake Tahoe is 142% of median
  • Carson is 137% of median
  • Walker is 122% of median
  • Snowpack as of today is better than 2015 peak amount in all basins
About Bob Conrad 766 Articles
Bob Conrad is proprietor and co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company (disclosure: client work includes projects funded by grants through UNR) and is an adjunct faculty member at Truckee Meadows Community College.