Nice to see ‘Miracle’ March
March 2, 2016
A quarter of a century ago, the drought was so bad that a slightly better than average March seemed sufficient to win the adjective "Miracle."
The snow pack was so bad in the first two years of the 1990s, that Alpine County declared its ski resorts were a disaster area.
Miracle March came in year five of the seven-year drought that wouldn't end for another two years.
The first storm of 1991, didn't happen until March 4, but once the door was open, the storms kept coming.
At the beginning of the month, snowpack in the Carson River basis was running around 15 percent of average. By the end of the month, the Carson basin was at around 60 percent.
According to news stories at the time, the month saw nearly 363 percent of average snowfall for the month, which was enough to cover for the rest of a very dry winter.
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It would be 15 years before Alpine Meadows managed to beat the 15.6 feet of snow at the base that fell in March 1991.
Carson Valley got a pretty good soaking that year, too with 2.64 inches of precipitation falling during the month. It might have been a record at the time, but three years later, in March 1995, that amount was nearly doubled when 5.17 inches of moisture fell in Minden. But after .22 inches of moisture in February, and .05 in January, the more than 7 inches of snow in March was a welcome change.
The point of all this is that you can never tell what's going to happen in the Sierra from one month to the next.
This March could see great precipitation, or none at all.
One thing we can say for sure — every winter in the Sierra is different.