Wet winter good for green valley
January 25, 2017
Last weekend's storm didn't live up to its hashtag, januBURIED, but it did put Carson Valley over the top for the water year and helped put a stake in the heart of the drought — for now.
Up on the mountain, Heavenly Ski Resort reported 88 inches of snow over the last week, with 30 of those inches falling on Sunday and Monday.
According to its website, 94 percent of the resort's terrain is open, and with fair weather in the picture, that means skiers and the dollars they bring to the Sierra and Douglas County.
Minden received 5 inches of snow on Sunday, making for a total of 23 inches for the month and 6.33 inches of precipitation. The town only gets 8.89 inches on average every year, so adding a wet October, it has exceeded that by more than an inch already.
But what really counts is what fell in the mountains, since that's the bank of water Valley ranchers rely come irrigation season.
According to the National Resource Conservation Service, the Carson River basin has double the snow water equivalent for this time of year. In spots such as Spratt Creek that amount is nearly quadruple the annual average.
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There's still a ways to go until irrigation season, and a lot of factors play into how useful that water will be.
If we have a cold spring that water will be available when ranchers need it. If it's too warm too early, the snowmelt will bypass Carson Valley and head on downstream where those users will benefit.