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Will it ever end?

by Sheila Gardner

Chances are good, as you read this, that the sky is blue and the snow is melting a bit. But if you are beginning to suspect that this February has been drearier than most, you’re right.

By Tuesday, Carson Valley had experienced only eight appreciably sunny days, the rest of the month being a steady diet of snow storms, hazy skies, drizzle and clouds.

It’s not the wettest February on record, but it may be one of the gloomiest.

“This year has been pretty consistent as far as precipitation is concerned,” said State Climatologist John James. “What is not consistent is this constant cloudiness. We’re getting weather like Seattle or Portland. I haven’t recorded one day this month which was completely sunny.”

James said with the exception of what he called a “couple of punctuation points,” the precipitation on most days is negligible. He recorded a 10-day period in which each day’s precipitation was less than a 10th of an inch.

“It’s been unusually cloudy, unusually damp and unusually moist,” said James. “They’re probably selling a lot less hand lotion in Reno right now.”

Nevada is on its way to an unprecedented fourth back-to-back wet winter, said James.

“We’re definitely on our way to the fourth wet winter in a row, which has never happened before,” said James. “Even if March and April are just normally productive, we’ll get it.”

James said Monday’s storm, which yielded about eight inches of snow in parts of Carson Valley, was just “a regular old winter storm.”

“It was not El Nino-enhanced,” said James. “It was just a flying storm. The El Nino-enhanced weather has been in California. It’s going to have to be hashed out later on what was El Nino and what was regular weather.”

Douglas County drivers appear to be learning from the string of bad weather, with few serious road mishaps reported from Monday’s storm and Tuesday’s icy roads.

“Yesterday (Monday) was kind of a nightmare,” said Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Lance Modispacher. “The snow didn’t appear to be that slippery. The streets looked wet and slushy, but what happened was the snow was so heavy, when it piled up in the middle of the row, people got caught and their tires were yanked off the road.”

Most drivers appeared to be heeding road conditions, Modispacher said, but he warned operators of four-wheel drive vehicles to be cautious.

“Folks in four-wheel drive think they’re bulletproof,” he said. “Their traction may be better, but they can’t stop any easier than anyone else.”

By Tuesday morning, when the roads were slicked over by single digit temperatures, Modispacher said drivers seemed to slow down.

“People seemed to say, ‘Monday was really bad, so I am going to slow down today,'” he said.

He said no injury accidents were reported either day.

“We were very pleased with that,” said Modispacher. “Cars we can fix, people we can’t.”

The good news about all the precipitation is the effect on the snow pack.

“We’ll certainly have another good year as far as irrigation goes,” said Julian Larrouy, watermaster for the East Fork of the Carson River.

As of Tuesday, the Sierra snowpack for the Carson River basin was at 142 percent of average. The Walker River was at 147 percent.

“No matter how bad things get, when I stand at my window on a clear, sunny day like this and look out at those mountains, I realize we live in a marvelous place,” Larrouy said Tuesday.

The National Weather Service predicted some sun today with the possibility of snow showers or rain in the evening.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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