Officials use the ‘D’ word |

Officials use the ‘D’ word

Water authorities are using the “D” word to describe climate conditions in the northern regions of Nevada and California.

Some predict Lake Tahoe – plagued with a low snowpack last winter – could drop down to its natural rim level of 6,223 feet, National Weather Service Hydrologist Gary Barbado said from his Reno office.

“There are definitely drought conditions in northern Nevada,” Barbado said.

Reno has gained the notoriety of having the driest water year in its history since the Weather Service started tracking the data in 1872, Barbado reported. The state’s second-largest city has only received 1.88 inches of precipitation since last October.

For the Lake Tahoe Basin, the eighth-driest year has been reported out of Tahoe City. This year’s average precipitation amounts to 29 percent of normal.

“That pretty much tells the story,” Barbado said. “Lots of things we rely on to be normal are going to change.”

The Weather Service has reported moderate to severe dry conditions stretching from California’s Redwood Coast northeast to Lassen County – one of the country’s hardest-hit areas, Barbado indicated.

The entire northern Nevada section of the state also falls within the drought zone, along with the Pacific Northwest states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

“It’s pretty clear. We had a below-normal winter in terms of snowpack … And with the hot weather we had in May, the bottom fell out of things,” said Frank Gehrke, regional snow survey chief for the U.S. Department of Water Resources.

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