Wet May pushes Lake Tahoe back up to natural rim
RENO — A wet May has pushed Lake Tahoe back up to its natural rim, but the lake will soon start dropping again because of the four-year drought.
It’s the first time the lake straddling the Nevada-California border has been so high since dropping below the rim last October, said Federal Water Master Chad Blanchard.
The lake could hover near its rim for a week or two, he said, but it will likely be a couple of feet below by early fall.
The natural rim is at 6,223 feet elevation, and only a small flow of water currently is running from the lake into the Truckee River at Tahoe City, California.
The flow is so slight that “it does nothing for the river,” Blanchard said.
The Truckee flows over 100 miles from Tahoe to Pyramid Lake, about 30 miles north of Reno. It’s the major water source for the Reno area.
The drought sent the lake below the rim and cut off flow into the Truckee last October. At the lowest point in February, Tahoe was nearly 8 inches below its rim.
In May, rainstorms and runoff from a skimpy Sierra Nevada snowpack pushed the lake up to the rim. The bulk of precipitation fell from May 14-25, dropping 1.08 inches of rain in Tahoe City and 1.42 inches in South Lake Tahoe, California. In Reno, just over an inch of rain fell in May, twice the normal amount.
“As far as the amount of rain we got, it definitely helps,” said Jessica Kielhorn of the National Weather Service in Reno.