Drought officially over in Douglas … for now

Snow berms hem in Highway 89 just east of Markleeville on Friday.

Snow berms hem in Highway 89 just east of Markleeville on Friday.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

Irrigation season starts April 1 and as of the first day of spring the amount of moisture available to Valley agriculture is no joke.

As of Monday, 19.98 inches of precipitation have fallen during the 2022-23 water year, nearly tying the calendar year total of 20 inches that fell in 2017.

The 8-14-day forecast calls for above average precipitation through April 2, though the monthly outlook for April indicates below average precipitation.

After nearly five years in drought, all but the far northeastern corner of Douglas County is now clear of any abnormally dry conditions, according to the U.S Drought Monitor.

Carson Valley’s main water storage is locked in the Sierra snowpack awaiting warmer temperatures to run down the rivers and streams.

As of 5 a.m. Monday, there was nearly 16 feet of snow at Ebbetts Pass at the top of the East Fork containing 71.9 inches of water.

At the top of the West Fork, Carson Pass had 13 feet of snow containing 49.9 inches of water, according to U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service snow telemetry.

Out in the Western Pacific, La Niña has bid farewell as conditions are forecast to shift to El Niño, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

There may be a little more snow coming to Carson Valley today, according to a statement issued by the National Weather Service on Monday.

A winter storm warning was issued on Monday through 5 a.m. Wednesday for Mono County and points south.

Forecasters are predicting 2-8 inches of snow from the storm north of Bridgeport, 8-15 inches south of Conway Summit and 2-3 feet along the crest, with 70 mph winds.

As of Monday, Highway 395 between Lee Vining and Mono City remains closed due to avalanches.

A winter weather advisory was set to expire 11 p.m. Tuesday for Lake Tahoe and Alpine County. Highway 89 east of Carson River Resort remains closed due to an avalanche, according to the California Department of Transportation.

The prospect of additional weather prompted The Nevada Department of Agriculture to seek information on the needs of farmers and ranchers experiencing extreme winter weather.

“Thank you for your dedication to your livestock and operations during this challenging time,” said NDA Director JJ Goicoechea. “Please be safe and we hope to have assistance options and resources available soon.”

Anyone who has been impacted is encouraged to submit photos and brief descriptions of the conditions and challenges to NDAEmergency@agri.nv.gov and work with their local emergency manager.


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