Streams will hit peak flow soon |

Streams will hit peak flow soon

Gregory Crofton
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune The level of Lake Tahoe, shown from the beach at Edgewood Golf Course, is expected to reach its peak around May 20.

More than 60 streams and creeks that are fed by melting snow and empty into Lake Tahoe are expected to reach their peak flows around May 8, about a month earlier than last year because of an early spring.

The lake should reach its maximum level for the year, about 8 inches higher than today, around May 20, according to the California Nevada River Forecast Center in Sacramento and the National Weather Service in Reno.

The level of Lake Tahoe affects boaters and swimmers in the Lake Tahoe Basin. But it also impacts water agencies, farmers, anglers and fisheries off the Truckee River because much of the water that flows down the Truckee comes from Tahoe.

Once the lake reaches its natural rim, 6,223 feet above sea level, Tahoe ceases to act as a reservoir because its water can no longer flow into the Truckee.

In 2002, the lake dropped below its rim only for one day. Last year, the lake dropped below its natural rim on Nov. 20 and stayed there for about two weeks before wet weather brought it back up. This fall, the stage is set for the lake to dip beneath its rim earlier and perhaps for a longer period.

“I think it will be earlier, about a month earlier, some time in October,” said Garry Stone, a federal water master who controls flow of water from Lake Tahoe and reservoirs around Truckee. “It just depends on the precipitation, the wind and temperatures. Hopefully we’ll make it through the summer.”

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at

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