Fast-moving storm shuts down Navy operations for a day
FALLON--After a dismal snowpack report recorded earlier in the month, Mother Nature weighed in with different plans of her own.
By the time she was done, the Oasis of Nevada looked more like a winter wonderland than the “balmy” county seat of Churchill County.
A Wednesday afternoon snow squall pushed by winds reaching as high as 42 miles per hour and snow measuring 13 inches in some areas swept across Churchill County in a two-hour span. Deeper depths were reported in Silver Springs and Fernley.
According to the National Weather Service, a snow squall moves in and then out of an area within an hour — sometimes two — and produces white-out conditions and dropping temperatures. The combination results in packed snow and icy roads as the sudden white-out conditions combined with falling temperatures produce icy roads in just a few minutes. All roads leading into and out of Fallon required chains or four-wheel drive with snow tires.
The Lahontan Valley News received more than a hundred postings describing the effects of the snow squall and the number of inches of snow that fell in various parts of the valley.
Based on local reports, the median depth of snowfall within the Fallon city limits averaged 8 inches. The LVN, however, traveled around the city and county to take other snowfall measurement. Laura Mills Park, Fallon City Hall and Banner Churchill Community Hospital each received 9 inches of snow while Oats Park and the Arts Center received 8 inches.
In the western part of the Lahontan Valley, residents reported up to 13 inches of snow, the most notable depth measured at Diversion Dam. In the southern part of the valley, depths ranged between 8 inches to a foot. East of Fallon, Harmon Junction had 8 inches of snow as did the County Church on Crook Road. Several Stillwater ranches received between 8 to 9 inches.
Naval Air Station Fallon had 7 to 7 1/2 inches of snow, while Pasture Road between the Greenhead Duck Club and U.S 95 had depths between 8 to 9 inches. Dodge Lane leading to the Frey Ranch had 8 inches. All operations at the home of Top Gun were suspended on Thursday.
Residents who posted their snow depths said this is the most snow they’ve seen at one time since December 2009. The total snowfall was 16.7 inches for the year, but the first week of December more than 14 years ago produced record-low temperatures and a snowstorm on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day that closed schools and paralyzed the city.
Residents also noted the snowstorm that occurred on New Year’s Eve 2022 and extending into the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2023, dropped an average of about 6 inches of snow.
According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) records, the most snow Fallon received over a winter is 26.6 inches. That record occurred in 1988-1989.
January’s measurement almost two weeks ago is the sixth lowest for the month, but the Lahontan Reservoir is holding more than 217,000 acre feet of water or 70% of capacity. Before the series of storms slammed into the Sierra during the winter of 2022-2023, the Lahontan Reservoir was at 10% of capacity.
“As a result of record-setting snow packs in 2023, reservoir storage in Northern Nevada is better than this time last year, the NRCS said. “The April through July streamflow volumes in 2023 set new records for the Carson and Walker rivers.”
As for the present, the snowfall across western Nevada will boost the snowpack. The snowpack earlier this month is the sixth lowest for January since 1981.
The U.S. Drought Monitor also reports the state being in good shape. The research shows the snowpack from the 2022-2023 produced above normal streamflow, cooler temperatures during the summer and above-level precipitation.
The United State Geological Service said their data shows most streams in Northern Nevada continue to have near normal to above normal winter baseflows, and reservoirs have above average carryover storage. Additionally, December’s precipitation was below normal at 64%
AROUND THE VALLEY
LDS Church on W. Richards St. — 8 inches
Laura Mills Park — 9 inches
City Hall — 9 inches
Oats Park — 8 inches
Banner Hospital — 8.5-9.5 inches
Harmon Junction — 8 inches
Stillwater ranches — averages to 8 inches
Crook Road Country Church — 8 inches
NAS Fallon — 7-7.5 inches
Pasture Road between the Duck Club and US 95 — 8 inches
Frey Ranch entrance — 8 inches
Rafter 3C — varies 7-8 inches
Based on the other reports we received, it appears the median snow depth of Fallon proper is about 8 inches and the county, according to LVN’s readers, varies from 7 inches to 13.