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Crews brace for snowmelt deluge in Northern Nevada

Associated Press

Conservation and transportation crews are preparing to temper a 250-percent increase in snowpack anticipated to melt into northern Nevada rivers and towns in the next three months, officials said Thursday.

Military and state agency officers huddled at the Capitol to discuss flood mitigation strategies after of one of Nevada's wettest and most severe winters on record.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said the state is sparing no resources to put all hands on deck.

"We have had an unprecedented event and that's going to require an unprecedented response," Sandoval said. "Our goal, because we know that water is coming, that is unavoidable, is to make sure that water goes where it can't harm anybody."

To residents who arranged sandbags or other types of barriers around their homes and properties during the storms, Sandoval said "you should keep all of that in place."

Water-resource administrators told the governor they are constantly monitoring numerous reservoirs and dams nearing capacity. Transportation and public safety officers said they are drawing alternate routes for major roadways that could be inundated by flood waters.

They're especially concerned about potential flooding on the Walker River Reservation and the towns of Yerington, Schurz and Fallon.

Officials are considering giving farmers unfettered access to draw water from rivers.

Two major water zones east of Lake Tahoe this year have received about 250 percent of their average annual snowpack, according to National Weather Service data presented Thursday.

Carson River Basin could see 239 billion gallons of snowmelt this year and Walker Basin could get 208 billion gallons, according to the service.

For conservation workers, that could mean fighting simultaneous flooding and wildland fires throughout spring and summer.

Reno broke a 34-year-old mark for its wettest year on record back in February — not halfway through the water season that the National Weather Service calculates from October through September.

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