More Rain, Snow Expected to Return, but No ‘March Miracle’

DONNER SUMMIT -- As the storm clouds once again roll into Northern California and the Sierra Nevada, the term "March miracle" may come to mind, especially after an exceptionally dry February.

But from a water resources standpoint, that term is a stretch this month.

"'95 was the wettest March on record, and that was at almost 23 inches," said California Department of Water Resources spokesman Chris Orrock. "We're not going to come even close to that. And even if we came close to that, we still wouldn't be back to average for where we need to be at this point in time."

Orrock wasn't saying there's anything disappointing about the storms this month. They are just not enough to fully make up for this season's rain and snowfall deficit.

Reservoir storage statewide is still healthy because of last year's exceptionally wet season, Orrock pointed out. So the state is equipped to handle a drier than normal season.

Still, conservation is encouraged as a way of life. Water customers are reminded to turn off their sprinkler systems off this week.

Also on the positive side, the March storms are coming in with enough cold air to bring snow where it's needed.

"Our Sierra snowpack is almost one-third of our water supply through the remainder of the year," Orrock explained. "So the more snow we can get, the better off we are into the drier summer months."

Back-to-back storms are expected to deliver several feet of snow to the Sierra this week.

From the perspective of those who work and play in the snow, it is something of a miracle.

"I'm getting a lot more clients as the storms start hitting," said Rachel Porter, owner of a business called Rad Nanny.

Rachel teaches outdoor recreation to families visiting the Sierra. Hers is one of many businesses directly benefiting from the March snowfall.

"That's what drives the families to come up here," Porter said. "When they see snow coming down, it's Tahoe time."