Rain on snow floods Bijou neighborhood
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Real estate listings don’t include a lakefront designation for the houses on Shirley Avenue, but no homes in the Lake Tahoe Basin were closer to water this week.
Heavy rain melted much of this season’s abundant snowfall and sent water creeping toward the doorsteps of a handful of homes Wednesday.
The city experienced significant flooding in some areas of the city during the storm, mainly in the area surrounding Shirley Avenue, said city streets supervisor Azril Kalik.
The area sits in a historic drainage area that flows down from Pioneer Trail and is prone to seasonal flooding, Kalik said.
When the basin experiences rain-on-snow events powerful enough to overwhelm an area’s drainage capacity, there’s little that can be done other than wait, Kalik said.
Five-year Shirley Avenue resident German Castillo said he’d never seen the water so high. The rising water had made an island of his home Wednesday.
“We called the police department because we weren’t sure who to call,” Castillo said. “They sent a fire truck down and they were like, ‘Wow, this is bad.'”
No water entered Castillo’s home, but at least one home in the area had water running from underneath its garage door.
To avoid the water, Castillo was entering his house Wednesday by walking through a neighbor’s yard, hopping into the back of a pickup truck and then onto his deck.
By Friday afternoon, the water had receded almost entirely.
Powerful winter storms expected to hit the South Shore this weekend should stay cold enough to keep snow from turning to rain, said Public Works Director John Greenhut in a message to the City Council.
“The weather forecast for the weekend is not good. There could be periods of heavy snow through Monday,” Greenhut said. “If there is a silver lining it will be that it may be too cold to rain. The snow could be wet and heavy, which is difficult to plow and even more difficult for residents to remove driveway berms.”
The National Weather Service in Reno expects between 10 and 23 inches of snowfall at lake level between Saturday and Sunday night. The weather service also expects chances of snow for the next seven days, the furthest out the agency forecasts.
City crews will be on-call all weekend and will go to double shifts if necessary to stay on top of the weather, Greenhut said.
If snow does turn to rain, parts of the city could again experience localized flooding. Materials for sandbags are available at the Pavilion loop at the back of Bijou Community Park on Al Tahoe Boulevard and behind South Lake Tahoe Fire Department Station 3 at 2101 Lake Tahoe Blvd.
People will need to fill the sand bags themselves, Kalik said. People should access the fire station via James Avenue, Kalik added.
– Tahoe Daily Tribune reporter Dylan Silver contributed to this report.
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