Because of the first decent winter in five years, Washoe Lake reached nearly half full this summer after being dry for nearly a year.
But Washoe Lake State Park Supervisor Jennifer Dawson said it didn’t last for long.
“Once those hotter temperatures hit in July and August, it started decreasing from evaporation,” she said. “It went fast. Every week you would go to the boat ramp and see it farther and farther out.”
Dawson said there’s a chance the lake will go dry again this fall.
“It’s going to take two really good winters to get it back to what it was several years ago when it was almost full,” she said. “One winter is not going to cut it so we’ll have to wait and see what Mother Nature has in store for us.”
She said hopefully the lake bed doesn’t dry completely this fall. Even a little remaining wet would help give the lake a good start once the spring melt comes this next spring.
The lake is fed by a total of 11 streams — all but one of them on the west side of the lake. But Dawson said the lake is vulnerable to drought because, even when full, it’s just 12 feet deep at its deepest point.
The lake has gone dry several times since the park was established in 1977.
She said she’s hoping for “lots of precip” this winter so the lake can recover.
The lake park along the south and east side of the lake is one of the more popular park areas in western Nevada because of its location between Reno and Carson City, drawing thousands of visitors every summer.
With the drought dramatically reducing the size of Washoe Lake even before it went dry, Dawson and her staff had to get creative to draw visitors with activities such as horseback riding in the Virginia Range to the east, ATV trails and hiking in the Scripps Wildlife Management Area.