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Cool temps helping snowpack

Jobs Peak stands above the clouds on Monday morning.
Susan Dalbey/Special to The R-C

While precipitation in the Carson River basin has been lackluster, cooler temperatures have helped slow melting of the snowpack significantly.

The basin is at 89 percent snow-water equivalent, according to snow telemetry maintained by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

While recent storms have helped increase the amount of snow in the mountains, cooler temperatures have allowed more of that moisture to be locked up in the snowpack.

Ebbetts Pass at the top of the East Fork of the Carson River has 26.6 inches of snow-water, or 83 percent of average for April 8.

Carson Pass, which is at the top of the West Fork, has 25.4 inches of snow-water, or 82 percent of average. Marlette and Burnside lakes are both showing snow-water equivalents in the upper 90s.

Those numbers are much better than should be expected in a basin that has only received 67 percent of its average precipitation during the water year.

The Lake Tahoe basin is running at 80 percent snow-water equivalent with only 67 percent precipitation. The Truckee basin has similar numbers.

Not benefitting much is the Walker River Basin with 64 percent snow-water equivalent and 57 percent average precipitation. The Walker River feeds Topaz Lake.

Irrigation season started in Carson Valley on April 1. While water from the river isn’t potable, it is critical to irrigating fields and helps recharge the Valley’s aquifer. It also reduces the amount of pumping ranchers do of their supplemental underground rights, which exceed the waters rights devoted in the Valley to municipal use.