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Nevada’s 20001 water year off to brisk start

by Sheila Gardner, Record-Courier editor

Nevada’s 2001 water year is off to a brisk start, leading to a cautious prediction from State Climatologist John James that winter will be colder and drier than usual.

“That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be dry – just drier than normal,” James said.

Carson Valley got a taste of colder than usual the past week with low temperatures hovering in the single digits.

“It’s been several years since we had a cold winter,” James said Tuesday. “Those 8-degree temperatures sure punctuate it.”

The forecast through Saturday calls for a slight chance of showers and highs in the upper 30s to mid 40s Friday and Saturday.

James attributed last week’s 6-inch snowfall in Carson Valley to a “Tonopah low.”

“It’s always hard to take that first storm in November. It’s been so warm, you get shocked out of your shoes by the snow,” he said.

“It’s kind of unusual to get so much snow in the Valley compared to the mountains,” he said. “Sometimes, these low pressure areas get in different positions. The storms out of the Pacific move across California and get held up in central Nevada. That’s why it’s called the ‘Tonopah low.’ Normally, the storm comes west to east. These came east to west.”

The 2000 water year, from October 1999 through September 2000, brought below average precipitation to the area, James said. Minden recorded 5.65 inches of water for the year, compared to the average of 8.13.

“It was a different story as you went east to Yerington and Hawthorne,” James said. “Areas around the Walker River got about two-thirds of average. It’s very unusual to see it so dry in that pocket.”