Valley wet enough to be ‘abnormally dry’

The water year has so far seen drought conditions retreat along the Sierra Front. Source:

The water year has so far seen drought conditions retreat along the Sierra Front. Source:

Calling parts of Carson Valley that have had snow on them for most of the last six weeks abnormally dry might seem nonsensical, but it’s really a big improvement in drought conditions.

According to the map released Feb. 9 by the U.S. Drought Monitor, a good two-thirds of the county has improved from severe drought conditions reported on Sept. 27.

Even northeastern Douglas County has improved to moderate drought conditions thanks to six weeks of stormy weather.

A Tuesday's storm brought flurries, which did not leave measurable moisture in Minden. The low is forecast to drop to 7 degrees early Thursday morning.

February has so far been no competition for January’s record conditions. Snow water equivalent at Carson Pass flattened out at 36.8 inches on Jan. 20 and gently climbed to 37.5 inches as of Monday. Ebbetts Pass at the top of the East Fork of the Carson River showed a similar pattern, flattening out on Jan. 20 at 45.7 inches and climbing another 2 inches to 47.7 as of Monday.

The 2 inches of light fluffy snow that fell in the county seat on Saturday only contained .06 inches of moisture, according to weather watcher Stan Kapler. Fredericksburg resident Jeff Garvin reported receiving about 2.5-3 inches of snow on Saturday morning.

As of Wednesday, the month has seen 3 inches of snow and .57 inches of moisture, a smidge short of the .69-inch average, but better than the zero recorded by Valentine’s Day 2022.

Forecasters issued their wrap-up of January this week.

“Two words can summarize (January): cold and wet,” according to the National Weather Service’s climate report for January. “Unlike the previous winter, when a wet December transitioned abruptly to a record-dray January, the storm pattern that closed out 2022 continued through the first three weeks of January 2023.”

According to the report, by Jan. 19, snowfall totals in the high Sierra had reached 300-400 inches, or near their average for the entire season.

“With the onslaught of atmospheric river events from late December into mid-January, it is no surprise that several areas had one category improvements to the drought status,” the report said.

Forecasters said two-dozen atmospheric rivers arrived at the West Coast between Oct. 1 and Jan. 17, with an exceptional one on Dec. 27.


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