So far, March miraculous in otherwise sorry winter
Snow was falling in Gardnerville on Friday evening as Girl Scouts hawked cookies in front of the Stratton Center.
With spring less than three weeks away, a late winter storm brought 7.5 inches of snow to Minden, more than three times the average for the entire month of March. It didn’t quite crack the 8-inch record for the first four days of the month, which was set in 1972.
The storm that roared in like a lion, left Carson Valley like a lamb with a few snow showers leaving a dusting in Genoa, where a half foot fell overnight on Friday, and another 3 inches was on the ground Saturday morning.
More snow fell in other parts of the county overnight on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, with a half-foot reported in Topaz Ranch Estates and 4.5 inches in Minden.
Heavenly Mountain Resort reported 68 inches of snow over the three days, which almost equaled its base depth.
Saturday’s snowfall was much heavier than Friday’s, approaching classic Sierra cement in moisture content.
The three-day storm brought the Carson River Basin up to 55 percent of average for this time of year, according to the Natural Resource Conservation Service snow telemetry.
Ebbetts Pass had 20.4 inches of water locked in the snowpack or 69 percent of average, while Carson Pass had 15.8 inches, or 59 percent of average.
Hydrologist Jeff Anderson with NRCS Snow Survey measured the snowpack by shoving a hollow metal pole through the snow and down to ground level, then measured the weight of the pole with the snow and then while empty.
He reported, “Our station today is right on with our ground truth. We’re seeing about 86 inches of snow depth, and that snow, if you melted it down, would have about 22.5 inches of water content in it, and that’s 67 percent median for this day; so almost 70 percent, which is up about 12 percent since before this storm started. We saw a nice increase from this storm.”
Forecasters are predicting another round of storms, possibly starting on Thursday, when a weak atmospheric river is headed for the Oregon coast.
While the precipitation may pass north of Western Nevada, Meteorologist Brian Brong said residents should expect 40-55 mph wind gusts. A second wave is expected to move into the area on Sunday and Monday.
“There’s not a ton of confidence in potential impacts, but the wet period may continue through next week with an atmospheric river on the horizon for the ides of March.”
An average March brings 1.12 inches of moisture to Minden, where records have been kept since 1906.
So far this water year, the Douglas County seat is at 80 percent of average.
A dismal February brought only .19 inches of precipitation, or 18 percent of the average 1.15 inches. January was a little better with .92 inches, short of the average 1.47 inches.