March pumps brakes in record-setting water year
March 26, 2017
With a record-breaking water year so far, perhaps it's better that so far that March has been more moribund than miracle.
According to the National Weather Service, 11.62 inches of precipitation has fallen in Minden since Oct. 1, the most in 111 years of record-keeping.
That's more than three times the average of 3.62 inches in the Douglas County seat.
As of Monday morning, only .78 inches of precipitation has fallen in Minden since the beginning of March, short of the month's 1-inch average.
The record for the month is 5.17 inches set in 1995. Most of the precipitation to fall during the month was in the form of snow with 7 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
With irrigation season due to begin on April 1, the snow water equivalent banked in the high Sierra is twice that of an average year, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service telemetry.
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A sensor at Ebbetts Pass at the top of the East Fork of the Carson River indicates 73.9 inches of snow water equivalent, or 223 percent of the average 33.1 inches.
Carson Pass at the headwaters of the Carson River's West Fork as of midnight Sunday had 55.9 inches snow water equivalent, or 189 percent of average.
Without significant upstream storage, Carson Valley irrigators are dependent on the snowpack melt-off to keep their fields green in summer.
Unlike the Carson River, the Walker has two reservoirs, both of which are releasing water in anticipation of the spring runoff.
A flood advisory has been extended until Wednesday for southern Lyon County downstream from Bridgeport Reservoir and Topaz Lake.
"These increased releases are a precautionary measure intended to create storage space in the reservoirs to handle increased runoff from snowmelt later this spring," the National Weather Service reported.
As of Sunday morning, the Walker River basin was at 210 percent average snow water equivalent.
According to the three-month forecasts issued last week, Western Nevada will see an average spring, with temperatures and precipitation returning to typical levels.