Hydrologist: Truckee flood threat could be lower
December 2, 2012
RENO, (AP) – A National Weather Service hydrologist says a powerful storm is colder than expected and is bringing more snow and less rainfall than forecast, blunting the flooding danger on the Truckee River.
Gary Barbato says forecasters originally had expected snow levels to stay as high as 10,000 feet elevation through late Sunday afternoon, but they’ve already dropped to 7,000 feet elevation at Donner Summit.
He says that’s good news for those living and working along the Truckee, which flows more than 100 miles from Tahoe to Nevada’s Pyramid Lake near Reno.
Officials had been bracing for major flooding Sunday morning around Truckee, Calif., and for minor to moderate flooding Sunday and Monday around Reno after the weather service issued a flood warning for the length of the Truckee.
In Carson City, Douglas and Storey counties, the flood warning remains in effect until 6:15 p.m. for urban areas and small streams, along with poorly drained areas.
Motorists should slow down when encountering heavy rain to prevent hydroplaning.
Another area for concern is the Ray May Burn area in Douglas County.
The Truckee region is currently under both a flood warning and winter storm warning as colder temperatures begin to settle into the area, according to the National Weather Service.
Major flooding is still possible Sunday for the Truckee River near Truckee, according to the NWS flood warning that remains in effect until 10 a.m. Monday.
“Showers will continue into the afternoon, but most of the precipitation is expected to end by tonight, according to NWS. “However, additional flooding is possible in the vicinity of creeks, streams and rivers as water levels will continue to rise into Monday.
“In addition, rock and mud slides and debris flows will continue to be a threat over the next several days.”
Officials are urging locals to be cautious over the next couple days, and to not drive into areas where the water covers the roadway.
“A flood warning means flooding is occurring or is imminent. Most flood-related deaths occur in automobiles,” according to NWS. “Do not attempt to cross water-covered bridges, dips or low water crossings. Never try to cross a flowing stream, even a small one, on foot.”
As of 10 a.m. Sunday, NWS also has issued a winter storm warning until 4 p.m. Sunday for the Truckee/Tahoe basin as a cold front moves quickly into the area.
The cold front will drop snow levels below 7,000 feet Sunday morning, with periods of heavy snow into the afternoon. The storm is expected to bring 10 to 16 inches of snow above 7000 feet, with 4 to 8 inches at lake level. Above 8,000 feet, 2 feet or more of snow is expected.
“Heavy snow and gusty winds will create periods of whiteout conditions over the higher passes of the Tahoe Basin,” according to NWS. “Motorists should expect hazardous driving conditions at times around the Tahoe Basin into the afternoon.”
• Staff from the Nevada Appeal and Sierra Sun Editor Kevin MacMillian contributed to this report.