Weather forecast: A dry December
While the three-month precipitation forecast through February indicates a chance of increased moisture, December doesn’t appear to be holding up its end.
As of Thursday, only .42 inches of moisture have fallen in Minden, according to the National Weather Service. The average for the same day is .55 inches.
One good storm could make a big difference, brining the total closer to December’s Carson Valley average of 1.39 inches.
It doesn’t appear that a storm forecast for Sunday will add much to the total for the month. According to forecasters, less than a tenth-of-an-inch of rain is expected to fall Sunday night.
After that forecasters are predicting a ridge of high pressure that could last until the weekend before Christmas.
As of Thursday, the snow-water equivalent in the upper Carson River Basin is running well above average.
Ebbetts Pass at the head of the East Fork is at 114 percent average, according to Natural Resources Conservation Service telemetry. Carson Pass near the headwaters of the Carson River’s West Fork is at 157 percent of average for this time of year.
At 8.9 inches, though, the snowpack on Ebbetts Pass is nowhere near 18.04 inches of snow-water equivalent it averages by the end of the first quarter of the water year.
Without any reservoirs of note along the Carson River, spring irrigation in Carson Valley is dependent in large part on the snow pack. Some larger ranches have agreements with area sewer districts to irrigate with treated water, but for many agricultural users, when the river dries up so does their main source for irrigation.
Some properties have supplemental groundwater rights they can pump during droughts, which increases the draw on the Valley’s aquifer.