On March 1, the snowpack in the Tahoe Basin was around 28 percent of the median water content, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). After several storms swept through the area, including one last week that brought more than 4 feet of snow in 48 hours to some Lake Tahoe ski resorts, that percentage has jumped to 63 percent of the median as of March 20.
“It’s more than doubled,” said Jeff Anderson, NRCS hydrologist. “We’ve seen a great recovery, not quite up to the 1991 standards of a Miracle March, but certainly headed in that direction, and with another big storm coming we could reach that level.”
The term “Miracle March” was coined in 1991 during what was on course to be the driest winter on record following a seven-year drought.
According to archives, ski resorts were preparing to pack up shop when a series of snowstorms starting on March 1, 199,1 delivered 50 inches of snow, and it kept coming for the rest of the month. Snowpack went from 17 percent of normal on March 1 up to 79 percent on April 1.
“Before we started getting those smaller storms toward the end of February our snow levels were very similar to ’91 in the Tahoe Basin,” explained Anderson. “We’re going from basically some of the lowest on record for those dates, so it’s been a great March and there is more to come. Hopefully, it comes as snow not rain.”
With the most recent storm that moved through the end of the week, dumping even more snow, the area should go into the last week of March in good shape. Whether it’s enough remains to be seen, but there’s still April…