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NID snow survey: Despite a dry January, snowpack is above average

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Senior Hydrographer Ashley Vander Meer measures snowpack during the February survey.

Feb. 8, 2022

Despite a dry January, snowpack remains above average on Nevada Irrigation District (NID) snow courses that provide water to raw- and treated water customers.

During the February survey, NID hydrographers found the average water content in the snowpack was 24.7 inches, which is 123.5 percent of the 20-inch average for this time of year, at the District’s five high-elevation snow courses.

Cumulative precipitation at Bowman Reservoir was 43.46 inches, which is 114 percent of average, as of Feb. 2.

District reservoir storage is also decent. NID’s 9 reservoirs are currently storing 187,489 acre-feet of water, which is 69 percent of capacity and 97 percent of average.

In January, only 1.86 inches of rain fell; that’s just 15 percent of average. Even with this meager amount, the start of the water year in October has significantly improved District water supplies thanks to record-breaking rainfall in October and record-breaking snowfall in December.

“After a wet December, January produced little precipitation and that has continued into February with dry conditions projected for the next 10 days,” said NID’s Water Resources Superintendent Thor Larsen. “Despite this dry weather, reservoir storage levels are near average including an above average snowpack.”

“The District is continuing to maximize storage efforts while utilizing short- and long- term forecasts to plan for the upcoming irrigation season,” Larsen said. “Water efficiency and conservation remain at the forefront of the District messaging as we continue to navigate through drought.”

Here are the specifics of the recent snow survey: NID’s highest course, Webber Peak, at 7,800 feet, had 65.3 inches of snow with a water content of 25.5 inches. The English Mountain snow course (7,100 ft.) had 79.4 inches of snow with a water content of 33.6 inches. Webber Lake (7,000 ft.) had 57.5 inches of snow with a water content of 22.7 inches. Findley Peak (6,500 ft.) had a snowpack of 54.8 inches and a 23.3-inch water content. Bowman Reservoir (5,650 ft.) had 46.7 inches of snow and a 17.5-inch water content.

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At the lower Chalk Bluff snow course (4,850 ft.) on the Deer Creek watershed, the survey showed 26.6 inches of snow with 11.6 inches of water content (the Chalk Bluff numbers are not included in the total average).

A member of the California Cooperative Snow Survey, NID conducts three official snow surveys each year in February, March and April. Results of the snow surveys are used to predict water availability locally and statewide.


NEW! NID snow survey video: learn how District hydrographers do their job. It’s fascinating, serious work against a spectacular snowy Sierra backdrop. Click here.  

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