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PHOTOS: Researchers rate Sierra snowpack “average”

By Ty O'Neil
Published: Last Updated on

Monday marked the first manual check of the area snowpack by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which also monitors snowpack throughout the season. The monitoring area is located next to the Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe resort and can be seen by passing skiers.

Jeff Anderson, a water supply specialist, and Chad Blanchard, water master, invited local media to join them for the test.

While the snowpack is average for this time of year, Anderson explained, a lack of fall rainstorms has left the ground dry. According to Anderson, that means that when the snow beings to thaw the ground will act like a sponge and absorb the water rather than allowing it to flow into area streams and waterways.

Anderson also noted that, while daytime temperatures are warm, the angle of the sun and cold nights have kept the snowpack stable.

Past weather systems may provide some insight into what will happen in the future, but predicting how much more precipitation will come to the mountains this winter is still a challenge.

Blanchard affirmed, however, that even if the Sierra has a below average snowpack this winter, Lake Tahoe and reservoirs are still in good condition thanks to past winters. 

Read more about the Snow Survey Program and area forecasts here: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/nv/snow/

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