Snowfall in Rockies slightly above average, snowpack the best in years

By Tony Smith, 8 News NOW Reporter

Published 02/09 2016 09:27PM

Updated 02/09 2016 09:41PM

The snowfall in the Rocky Mountains is being called the best snowpack in years.  The snowfall is slightly above average for the season.

The extra snowfall is nothing but good news for the valley since water levels at Lake Mead have fallen steadily for nearly a decade.

Will the additional snowfall in the mountains continue?

Experts say it's too early to tell.  However, forecasters hope the El Nino weather pattern will bring extra precipitation by the end of the month to help us stay slightly above average.

"Water managers through the desert southwest pay very close attention to the snowfall, especially for those who are dependent on the Colorado River to meet our water needs," said Bronson Mack with the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Daniel Berc with the National Weather Service agrees.  He says he too has been monitoring the snowpack on the western Rockies.  He says it is slightly above average.

"Every winter, we get a series of storms that come through periodically, said Berc.  "This year we expect a few more than normal due to El Nino."

"When we hear that the snowpack in the Colorado River is at average or above average, we are definitely pleased with that information," Mack said.  "However, we are a bit reserved as water managers are -- just to make sure we can see how the scenario's going to play out and kind of minimized some of the uncertainty."

With water levels falling steadily -- 12 feet per year on average -- that coupled with warmer winters -- experts are watching every drop.

"We are going to hold our breath into the Springtime, especially if those warm temperatures come which could impact the snow even further," Mack said.

"You've seen the bathtub ring around the lake?  We are the lowest point or very close to the lowest point since it was filled in the 1930s," said Berc.  However, we are not at the point that we are looking at water restrictions, but if we continue down our dry pace that we have had for the last decade -- we certainly need to be thinking about water."

Mack says he's hoping for a cool spring, to keep us from accelerating snow melt which is another threat.

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