Light Snowpack Could Mean Trouble For Truckee Riverflow

Jan 4, 2018


Editor's Note: An original version of this story reported Natural Resources Conservation Service's Jeff Anderson's last name erroneously, and has since been corrected.

It's the beginning of January, and when you're driving up Mount Rose Highway, you can hardly see any snow at all.

There's a patch of ice here and there, but once you get to an elevation of about 8,500 feet and take a step outside, all of a sudden you're nearly stuck in about three feet of snow. More than enough to comfortably ski on and not-so-comfortably walk on. 

During this winter season, the higher elevations in the Sierra have received about 85 percent of what the Natural Resources Conservation Service considers median snowfall for this time of year.

But the areas where the elevation hits between 8,000 and 6,000 feet are looking pretty dismal--only 25 percent of the median accumulation. Jeff Anderson from the NRCS said those elevations cover a lot of area, which is important for getting river flow and restoring reservoirs in the Truckee Meadows as the snow melts during the summer.

"Well, it's kind of like a savings account, right?" Anderson said. "If you don't have enough income, you've got to tap into your savings. And right now our savings accounts in our reservoirs are relatively well off, after record amounts of precipitation and snow last year."

Armstrong said there's still plenty of winter left for the snow to fall, but in case it doesn't, the area could reasonably survive a dry year, so long as it's replenished the next year.

A storm front is expected to move in later this week, but may only snow in the higher elevations.

It's the beginning of January, and when you're driving up Mount Rose Highway, you can hardly see any snow at all.