Drought continues in Nevada; three weeks without precipitation
The worst drought in a decade continued in November across most of Nevada and into the central Sierra Nevada after a promising start fizzled out and virtually no rain or snow fell the last three weeks of the month.
State climatologist John James said extreme drought conditions continue in the southern quarter of the state, with severe drought across the middle third of Nevada and moderate drought in the north.
“Despite the early heavy precipitation, the drought is so severe in this region that persistent and significant storms will be needed through spring to alleviate the dry conditions,” James said.
But that may change in the coming week as weather forecasters say storms appear to be lining up in the Pacific that have a good chance of making a mark on the region.
“We’re looking at a couple of systems right now, that if they come through, could bring snow down to lake level and rain on the valley floor beginning Friday,” said Larry Brown, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
While it’s too early to gauge snowfall amounts, the first weather system is expected to bring the snow level down to about 5,500 feet.
That weather system will clear out Saturday, with a similar system expected to arrive on Monday, Brown said.
The November storm, which happened during the first week, brought enough snow to blanket mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe with up to three feet. But the snow has been melting off rapidly because of warm temperatures and no additional precipitation.
November was much warmer than usual in Nevada, which resulted in above normal evaporation, the weather service said. James said the three consecutive dry years in Nevada are comparable to conditions that existed in the latter part of the 1980s.
On the bright side, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center says conditions should improve and drought impacts ease between now and February in the Southwest United States, including the southern third of Nevada.
Northern Nevada should experience ongoing drought with some improvement, the center said.
Northeast Nevada received the most precipitation last month, with Elko reporting 1.21 inches, up from the monthly norm of 1.05. Half of that fell on November 21 when a record .64 was reported for that date.
Reno’s 1.1 inches of precipitation also was slightly above normal, thanks to a strong jet stream that brought moisture to the area the second week of the month.
However, a high pressure system returned to the West Coast, blocking any more weather systems from entering the area last month, the weather service said.
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A flash flood watch has been issued for the Lake Tahoe Basin.