Not quite dry enough for drought, yet

While Carson Valley isn't technically in drought this has been an abnormally dry year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's drought monitor.

Only the northeastern corner of Douglas County is considered in the first stage of drought.

Whether the Valley will end up in drought is dependent on how much moisture falls in December, January and February.

The prospect of an El Nino may have resorts hawking ski passes, but the reality is that the weather phenomenon means warmer, but not necessarily wetter winters.

Long range forecasts for Western Nevada show El Nino has equal chances of increasing or decreasing precipitation over the winter.

September is the last month of the water year, and according to the National Weather Service's precipitation numbers for August, only a few places came anywhere near to receiving average precipitation.

Monitor Pass and Poison Flat were the only two places in the Carson River basin that received more than average for the month. Carson City and Virginia City didn't receive a drop during what is usually a dry month. Gardnerville received .13 inches and Minden got .09 inches in a month where a third of an inch typically falls.

The water year ends Sept. 30, which is when the final tally for the year's precipitation is made. So far the champion is Ebbetts Pass, with 95 percent of the year's average and 98 percent of average for the first 11 months. Poison Flat also had 98 percent for the first 11 months, but is at 94 percent of the year.

Carson City has had less than half of its average 10.36 inches for the year, with 5 inches of moisture so far this year. Minden had 5.35 inches so far, which is 64 percent of its average 8.38 inches for the year.

Snow falling in the mountains is responsible for a vast majority of the moisture that falls in the Carson River basin. It feeds the river throughout the year. Surface water from the river is used to irrigate Western Nevada's agricultural lands. During dry years ranchers and farmers pump groundwater to make up for less water in the river.


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