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February sees large snowfall at Lake Tahoe, nearby mountains

March 7, 2019

RENO, Nev. (AP) — This winter is the eighth largest in the Truckee River Basin since 1981, largely due to a February that was full of snowfall, records show.

So much snow fell on the surface of Lake Tahoe last month that the waterline rose by about a foot (0.3 meters), the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Thursday.

That’s 39 billion gallons (147.63 billion liters) of water in the form of snow that fell directly into the lake, said Reno Chief Deputy Water Master Dave Wathen.

It snowed 24 out of the 28 days at the Mt. Rose SNOTEL, Hydrologist Jeff Anderson said.

Mt. Rose SNOTEL is one of nine locations around the Truckee River Basin that track snow levels.

Last month was the second-largest February on record at that site, adding 28 inches (more than 71 centimeters) of liquid water-equivalent to the snowpack, according to recent figures.

“We’re well ahead of schedule (this winter),” Anerson said. “In the Sierra, we have already on the ground about a winter-and-a-half’s worth of snow.”

The winter of 2016-17 was one of the biggest in the Lake Tahoe region in recent memory. Even with February’s heavy snowfall, Anderson said it’s unlikely this year will beat out that winter.

“It’s probably out of reach, to be honest with you,” he said. ”... Even if we had a repeat of last year’s Miracle March, we still wouldn’t reach the 2017 peak.”

This year’s snowpack, measured in snow-water equivalent, is still lagging 30 to 40 percent behind where it was at this same time in 2017.

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com