Sierra passes indicate a good winter
May 20, 2016
Want a straight up barometer for the difference between this year and last, look at when the passes opened.
Monitor Pass never did close last year. Ebbetts and Sonora passes were open in mid-April and Tioga Pass was open in the first week in May.
On Wednesday, the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park opened on the latest date since 2011.
That was a very wet year, and Tioga didn't open until the middle of June. The waterfalls both at the top of Sonora and across the Yosemite Valley were going great guns well into July.
So the winter of 2015-16 will be remembered as a fine year for precipitation. It wasn't the drought buster promised by the El Niño hype but a nice average winter. The Carson River basin is running 115 percent for this time of year, and if not another drop of rain fell in the next five months, it would have come in at 92 percent of average.
We get the feeling that it's going to be a tad wetter than usual through the rest of the year, if April was any indication. Minden experienced more than twice the usual rain during the month.
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The opening of the Sand Harbor boat ramp is another indication that we had a good winter.
It's been a while since it has been open at all, and now that there's water in the Lake things are looking up a bit.
But there's no worse bet in Nevada than on the weather. We've had bright spots in the middle of long droughts, and we've had short droughts in long wet stretches.
The only sure bet is that no two seasons will ever be exactly the same.