Snowpack 127 percent of normal |

Snowpack 127 percent of normal

While the Sierra-wide average remains below normal, Lake Tahoe’s snowpack has made a significant gain in the past month and now stands at 127 percent of its historic average, state officials said Tuesday.

Officials from the California Department of Water Resources measured the snowpack Tuesday at a benchmark location near Echo Summit, finding that the snow had significantly increased since the Dec. 29 measurement of 95 percent.

“It’s not uncommon to have significant storm action after the (first reading),” said Frank Gehrke, chief of the snow survey division of the Department of Water Resources. “If we have a normal rest of the year, we’ll probably come out about average or a little better.”

Because there was a long period of time without much storm activity. However, the soil is likely drier than normal, Gehrke said. That may diminish the amount of runoff in the spring.

“The runoff may be slightly lower than normal,” he said.

Eight measurements were taken at an elevation of about 6,800 feet. The average depth of snow was 66.1 inches, and the snow had an average water content of 24.3 inches. The previous month’s measurements showed an average depth of 38.5 inches and an average water content of 11.5 inches.

The Department of Water Resources conducts several measurements throughout the Sierra every winter month, and the average is based on the years from 1946 to 1995. The water content of the Sierra snowpack is monitored closely throughout the winter, since its runoff is the principal water source for the state for the rest of the year.

The average snowpack from nearly 200 monitoring stations throughout the Sierra range is 91 percent of normal, compared to numbers well below 50 percent a month earlier.

From late December into January, virtually no snow fell on Lake Tahoe for nearly a month. However, that was followed by a series of snow storms.

More snow is possible this week.

“Thursday there is a chance of snow, then again on Saturday,” said Mark Brown, meteorologist for the National Weather Service Reno Office. “It doesn’t look like anything too significant, though.”

-The Associated Press contributed to this report

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