Recent Sierra snow storm could conquer megadrought


Photo by California Department of Water Resources

Water levels in lakes across the state have receded due to the continued drought

Mario Perez de Leon '24, Staff Reporter

In January, hundreds of inches of snow piled onto Sierra Nevada, affecting residents and tourists alike, but this surplus may have a silver lining. 

The snowstorm came after years of non-stop drought, which caused a steady decline in Nevada’s water supply. 

This drought is still ongoing and is one of the worst the West Coast has ever experienced, and it is all being fueled by fossil burning and other human activities that contribute to the mass climate change the area has been experiencing. This all culminates in a megadrought that leads this region to being the driest it has been in nearly 1,200 years, as reported by the Associated Press.

This past year, Nevada’s annual snow level grew incredibly high, completely overshadowing past annual records. This is shown through the nearly 193 inches of snow that UC Berkeley students observed at one of the school’s research stations. 

Because snow contains water, large amounts of it can help assist Nevada during the ongoing drought, as all that water gets slowly released.

Michael O’Brien, AP Environmental Science instructor at Riordan, said, “The more snow we have, the more water we have and that’s a good problem to have.” 

“The more snow we have, the more water we have and that’s a good problem to have.””

— AP Environmental Science instructor, Micheal O'Brien

However, he also acknowledges the serious consequences that come with this event. “If you don’t have provisions in your house, if your electricity goes out, and you have no way to get to a store, if you haven’t prepared for that it can be scary.” 

The introduction of so much snow endangered numerous Nevada residents’ livelihood. Many residents had to face an unyielding amount of snow as it obstructed their daily lives, whether preventing them from working or even leaving their own house. 

Furthermore, the snow rained so intensely onto the state that major roads were shut down, causing less people to come to Nevada and turning one of the busiest states into a practically empty one.  

It could even negatively impact the environment later down the road, as Stephanie Lee, a science instructor at Riordan, explained. “The more precipitation, the longer the vegetation grows, and then with our dry season it gets more likely to be kindling for wildfires.” 

Overall, negative effects reign both right now and possibly in the future for Nevada, yet this snowstorm may also ease the effects caused by the state’s continual drought.