Water year ends with surplus

The water was low on Silver Lake near Highway 88 on Sept. 22, the last day of summer in Alpine County, that saw a little snow on the peaks. Photo special to The R-C by Tim Berube

The water was low on Silver Lake near Highway 88 on Sept. 22, the last day of summer in Alpine County, that saw a little snow on the peaks. Photo special to The R-C by Tim Berube


While the water year in Carson Valley officially ended with a surplus on Friday that doesn’t mean either the drought or fire season is over.

According to National Weather Service records, Minden received 10.46 inches since Oct. 1, 2021, above the average 8.89-inch annual precipitation for the county seat. That ties the precipitation received in 1936, making it the 20th wettest year since records started being kept in 1906.

Those same records indicate the 3.73 inches that have fallen so far since Jan. 1 would make 2022 the third driest on record if not another drop falls over the next three months.

Despite heavy rains in August, Douglas County remains in severe drought. Minden recorded 2.8 inches during the Aug. 3-4 thunderstorms that saw Highway 89 into Markleeville wash out and a flood send nearly 6 feet of mud into the back of a home on Horsethief Circle.

“They just got annihilated with 5-6 inches of rain in short order,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Smallcomb said on Sept. 22. “It doesn’t take much rain to produce debris flow on those burn areas. A quarter inch in 15 minutes is all it takes. Just a short duration high-intensity rainfall.”

That was the story for the whole year with a few days in October and December being the other key moisture producers last year.

Long-range forecasts for the next three months offer 50-50 odds on whether October, November and December will be wet or dry, but the long-range outlook issued by the Weather Service indicates it could be warmer, which is bad news for the ski resorts.

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest officially lifted fire restrictions on the Bridgeport and Carson ranger districts on Monday. Campfire permits are required in California’s parts of the forest, which can be found at permit.preventwildfiresca.org

“The fire danger level across the Forest has been reduced due to recent moisture and predicted cooler temperatures,” foresters said.

On Saturday, the Bureau of Land Management Carson City District Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamations, and Nevada Division of Forestry lifted fire restrictions that have been in place since July 1.

“Agency fire management officers recommend lifting fire restrictions due to decreasing daily sunlight, increasing fuel moisture levels, and cooler evening temperatures. However, the potential threat for wildfires remains, so they encourage the public to continue enjoying their federal, state, and private lands responsibly by being very careful with any fire,” BLM officials said.

The only large fire burning downwind of Carson Valley is the Mosquito Fire which has not increased in size for more than a week since it was reported to be 85 percent contained.

Fire officials expect smoke to pick up from interior pockets of unburned vegetation as vegetation dries.

“Heavier fuels, such as large trees, retain heat for quite some time,” officials said. “What little moisture the fire received last week was not enough to extinguish these fuels.”

Smoke from the fire, burning 40 miles west of Minden, is not expected to make it over the Sierra.


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