Lake Tahoe level holding steady
LAKE TAHOE – While the recent thunder and rainstorms over Lake Tahoe have not contributed significantly to the lake’s level, it helped nature make the best of the snowpack the mountains received this winter, a local water expert said Tuesday.
“Since the big rainstorms in early May we haven’t had any large rises, but it’s a just a little bit every day, and if nothing else, it’s offsetting evaporation, which is huge,” said Chief Deputy Water Master Chad Blanchard with the U.S. District Court Water Masters Office in Reno.
The lake’s level has risen .14 feet since May 26, bringing it to 6224.61 by Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That’s about .86 feet less that the level on June 9, 2008.
How much of that rise can be attributed to precipitation is hard to tell, Blanchard said.
“Part of that has been snowmelt, which is part of the normal rise, so it’s hard to pull out the actual rise from the precipitation versus the snowmelt,” he said.
Lake Tahoe has already exceeded the .9 foot rise predicted by the National Weather Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service with a 1.02 rise since April 1.
“We don’t know how much snow is left and how much more the lake will rise,” Blanchard said. “We will just have to sit and wait and see what happens. Even if we don’t see it come up a bunch more the weather is contributing to low evaporation which is a good thing.”
Rain and thunderstorms hit the Lake Tahoe region last week and could continue throughout this week according to NWS.
May’s precipitation totaled at 3.98 inches, making it the third wettest May ever. The wettest May was in 2005 with 4.33 inches. So far June is on pace to meet its average precipitation of .67 inches, with .62 inches already fallen.
“We’re pretty close to average, and we’re only on the ninth day,” Blanchard said.
The precipitation helps lake level not only by making up for evaporation but also by keeping the ground moist. This allows snowpack runoff to go directly to the lake instead of being absorbed into the ground, Blanchard said.
“It’s been the perfect spring for maximizing the snowpack we had,” he said.
Elevation levels are holding steady at Lake Tahoe after a series of rainstorms in May and June. The rim reached 6,224.61 feet above sea level on Tuesday, still below the historic average lake level one foot higher and a little less than one foot below the level last year of 6225.47.
Lake Tahoe’s overflow into the Truckee River, the lake’s only outlet, is at 531 cfs, close to the 500 cfs mandated Floriston rate.
Donner Lake is slight above full with 9,538 acre feet of water, full is considered 9,500 acre feet.
At 128,631 acre feet Stampede Reservoir is a little more than half full its capacity of 226,500 acre feet. Last year at this time it had 138,167 acre feet of water.
Boca Reservoir is filled with 31,229 acre feet of water, about 1,000 more acre feet than this time last year.
Prosser Reservoir is full at 30,023 acre feet, above its capacity of 29,840 acre feet and almost 10,000 acre feet higher than its level this time last year.
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