GRASS VALLEY - In snow surveys taken Monday (Feb. 3), the Nevada Irrigation District measured just 7 percent of average water content in the mountain snowpack that supplies the NID water system.
“With the continued dry weather, these results are disappointing but not unexpected,” said NID Operations Administrator Sue Sindt, who oversees the district’s snow survey program.
“Through this dry pattern, we have continued to be conservative with our water releases and to hold as much water as possible in storage,” she said. “We are continuing to ask our customers to voluntarily reduce water use by 20 percent while we continue for wait for this dry pattern to change.”
As a few promising storms moved into the forecast, NID snow surveyors measured water content on five mountain snow courses ranging in elevation from 5,650 feet to 7,800 feet. There was no snow on the lower division Chalk Bluff snow course (4,850 ft.) near Bear Valley.
The five-course average water content was 1.4 inches, which compares to the Feb. 1 average water content of 21.1 inches.
NID’s highest course, Webber Peak, at 7,800 feet, had 7.8 inches of snow with a water content of 1.9 inches. The English Mountain snow course (7,100 ft.) had 8.7 inches of snow with a water content of 2.2 inches.
Webber Lake (7,000 ft.) had 7.6 inches of snow with a water content of 1.9 inches. Findley Peak (6,500 ft.) had a snowpack of 3.4 inches and a 0.7-inch water content. Bowman Reservoir had 0.8 inches of snow with a water content of 0.1 inches.
A year ago, in the official Feb. 1, 2013 snow survey, NID measured water content at 85 percent of average.
This year’s precipitation at Bowman Reservoir (elev. 5,650 ft.) stood at 11.76 inches, or 31 percent of average, as of Feb. 3. Seasonal precipitation is measured July 1-June 30.
NID is continuing its conservative water management to bolster water storage for the coming summer season. As of Jan. 31, the district’s reservoirs held 145,600 acre-feet of water, which is 58 percent of capacity and 88 percent of average for the date.
“We’re remaining optimistic that we will see some big changes in the weather patterns that will produce needed snowpack,” Sindt said. “We’ve asked for voluntary water conservation but if the dry pattern persists, further actions may be required.”
A member of the California Cooperative Snow Survey, NID conducts four official snow surveys each year, in February, March, April and May. Results of the snow surveys are used to predict water availability locally and statewide. (Courtesy NID Press Release)