The region’s snowpack is “way above normal” according to Jeff Anderson, hydrologist for Natural Resources Conservation Service in Nevada. His January snow survey on Monday near the Mt. Rose Summit measured 7.5 feet of snow with more than 27 inches of water content—185% of the average snowpack.
The site is electronically monitored with a “snow pillow” and other equipment, but Anderson makes physical inspections throughout the winter and invites members of the media along.
Anderson said over the past two years snow has fallen on dry ground within the region. When that snow thawed, much of the water first went into the soil instead of the region’s lakes and reservoirs. That’s not the case this year, though. October storms brought both snow and rain to the Lake Tahoe basin filling the soil with water and giving run off a chance to head to the area’s parched bodies of water.
Chad Blanchard, Federal Water Master for the Carson-Truckee Rivers, discussed the health of local reservoirs.
Lake Tahoe, which fell below its rim in 2021, is back up and now holding more water. Blanchard said that because Lake Tahoe has such a massive surface area precipitation will affect the lake’s level right away, simply because much of it is landing in the lake itself.
Other bodies of water with substantially less surface area will have to wait until the spring run off to begin seeing much of this winter’s moisture.
While December storms have brought snow to the mountains, precipitation in February and March will still decide what the region’s water conditions will be for 2022.