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February 15, 2013
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Change in weather could break dry cycle

A high pressure ridge off the coast of California that cut off moisture to the Sierra Nevada may break up on Tuesday allowing a change in the weather and bringing snow.

That would be a welcome change for Carson Valley ranchers who are watching the water locked in the mountain snowpack dwindle from double at the end of December down to 91 percent.

While a cold January helped to preserve the snow that fell in the first quarter of the water year, February so far has been dry and relatively warm with high temperatures nearing 60 degrees in Carson Valley.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday by the National Weather Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, forecasters said moisture during February is expected to be dry. That means lower streamflows when the melt-off comes this summer unless more wet storms leave moisture in the Valley.

"The next six to eight weeks will tell the final story of snowpack this winter and what the spring and summer streamflow will be," forecasters said. "Just a few more wet storms could cause the season to finish in good shape."

That pattern change could begin next week when low pressure is expected to arrive ahead of a cold front on Tuesday.

Forecasters expect below average temperatures, gusty winds and snow in the mountains from the storm.

Totals vary from one part of the central Sierra to another, forecasters said the trend is shared for all locations.

According to Natural Resource Conservation Service snow telemetry, the Carson River basin dropped down to 91 percent of average as of Friday morning. Carson Pass and Spratt Creek snow sites still show better than average snow water equivalent, but Ebbetts Pass is down to 91 percent and Horse Meadow is at 76 percent of average for this time of year. The Walker River basin is at 95 percent of average and the Lake Tahoe basin is at 79 percent.

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The Record Courier Updated Feb 18, 2013 09:26AM Published Feb 15, 2013 08:03PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.