Region faces long summer; snow melt ahead of schedule

This year marks the driest January-March ever measured by SNOTEL sites around Nevada. According to the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Carson Basin snowpack is at 51% of normal, and it’s melting faster than previous years.

In the eastern Sierra region, most SNOTEL sites recorded 1-4 inches of precipitation over three months, significantly lower than their usual 10-30 inches from January to March.

An early melt gives the ground more time to dry out, which makes for a longer summer.

“Plan your camping and backpacking trips earlier than the last couple years. Earlier melt-out could produce an earlier fire season,” said an April 4 report from the NRCS.

The report also noted that runoff from the snow melt will force streams to reach their peak volume earlier in the year.

Jeff Anderson, hydrologist for the NRCS, measured Mount Rose’s snowpack on Monday and found that it had 24.2 inches of water content. The water content of the snowpack peaked on March 21 at 28.2 inches, but it usually peaks closer to April 15 at 37.4 inches.

Across Northern Nevada, snow melt is nine days ahead of 2021 and 24 days ahead of 2020.

Irrigation districts are already bracing for impact with low water allocations. In the Lovelock area, there is currently not enough water in the Rye Patch Reservoir to turn on the system.

Representatives with the NRCS encouraged farmers and ranchers to utilize one of their Farm Bills programs to access financial assistance.

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