Water & Drought

With recent heat wave, Lake Tahoe water level approaches max limit

Huge spring runoff at Lake Tahoe

Put thoughts of drought out of your mind for a bit: Snow is melting and water is flowing. Here's what the Tahoe area looked like on May 2, 2017.
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Put thoughts of drought out of your mind for a bit: Snow is melting and water is flowing. Here's what the Tahoe area looked like on May 2, 2017.

The combination of the West Coast heat wave and spring’s snowfall in the Sierra has Lake Tahoe close to filling for the first time in over a decade.

An influx of more than 12 billion gallons of water has poured into the lake this past week, leading to a four-inch rise in the water level since June 16, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Friday.

The lake’s water level, which has a maximum legal limit of 6,229.1 feet, was measured at 6,228.84 feet Friday morning.

Where’s the water going? A dam in Tahoe City regulates Lake Tahoe’s reservoir, and has been releasing billions of gallons into the Truckee River over the past four months, and dumping will continue during the summer.

U.S. District Court water officials expect the lake to fill in mid-July, according to the Chronicle. That has not happened in 11 years.

The lake has fluctuated between 6,220.26 feet and 6,229.39 feet in the past 30 years, reaching the latter mark during a January 1997 flood, according to an article published by Sierra Sun. In December, water levels sat at 6,223.04 feet.

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