Mountain snowpack ready to start melting
April 8, 2014
RECORD HIGHS FOR THIS WEEK
April 7 — 85 set in 2007: Forecast 74
April 8 — 79 set in 1977: Forecast 79
April 9 — 79 set in 2007: Forecast 72
April 10 — 87 set in 1908: Forecast 71
April 11 — 84 set in 1908: Forecast 70
April 12 — 82 set in 1934: Forecast 71
Source: National Weather Service
The Carson River basin was at 64 percent of its snow water equivalent for Tuesday.
But increased temperatures forecast for this week could melt that snow off quickly if they hold steady.
Remote sensors operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service recorded average high temperatures above freezing at Ebbetts Pass on Sunday. While the snow has compacted down from 64 to 48 inches on April 1, the snow-water equivalent climbed 20.4 inches on Tuesday.
The story’s the same on Carson Pass, where the snow depth peaked at 65 inches on April 1 and has compressed down to 51 inches on Tuesday. The snow water equivalent is dropping to 19.6 inches.
The hydrologic outlook released on Tuesday by the National Weather Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service reports well below average streamflow this spring and summer.
While a relatively wet February helped boost snowpack, March wasn’t any help in the Sierra.
Runoff from the mountains will be less than average as snowmelt will have to saturate soils before the water can begin to flow. The report warned farmers and ranchers will need to actively manage their water resources during the year.
Douglas County remains in extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Drought conditions will contribute to high fire danger this summer.
The long-range forecast indicates that Western Nevada will have near or below average precipitation for April, with above average temperatures.
A warm spring means snow in the mountains will start to melt rapidly, making for a short irrigation season.
Colder temperatures during spring could preserve the snowpack and lengthen the time water is available. Snow falling in the Carson Range above Jacks Valley last year in May led to a hay crop that John Ascuaga called his best.