Soon the NRCS (US Natural Resource Conservation Service) will do the April 1 snow survey. That survey – generally the last one for the 2015-16 season will undoubtedly be much improved over the last one for the 2014-2015 winter season. However, is it a drought busting winter? Not too likely at this point. Will it be above or below average or just average? Stay tuned for the report.
Meanwhile, a much appreciated, surprise “inside slider” snow storm dropped as much as 10 inches of snow in Reno and along the east side (predominately) of the Carson Range and Sierra. Without the rain shadow of the Sierra, Reno got just as much snow as much higher mountain locations.
This winter season has been unusual in that the much predicted above normal precipitation for the southwestern US largely did not materialize (at least yet). Currently, the drought monitor still shows significant drought conditions for the southwestern portion of the country.
One average – or even above average – winter season doesn’t make up for the severe deficits built up in the Truckee River basin during the last 4 years and the deficit created in Truckee River flows over the last 16 years of mostly drought conditions. The southwest US drought started in 2000 and has continued with only 2 above average precipitation years. The final survey for the 2015-2016 winter season for the Truckee River watershed may come close to average or better, but the entire southwest US is unlikely to see an end of the long drought.
One good thing; the late snowstorm will likely delay the start of Truckee Meadows residents cranking up their sprinkler systems. TMWA (Truckee Meadows Water Authority, water provider for the region), however, seems poised to declare the drought over.
Keeping water conservation in place would be a far better approach and making sure the groundwater areas that TMWA pumps from recover fully before dropping conservation measures. It is far too early to pretend drought for the Truckee River has ended.