Monthly Archives: May 2014

Just 14 years ago …

Time has a way of compressing as we get older.  It seems like only yesterday that our water resources in our lakes and rivers were in great shape.  Today, not so much.

At the dawn of the new millennium, Lake Tahoe was at full capacity, the reservoirs on the Truckee, likewise.  The Truckee River was flowing at over 1000 CFS during May and June.  We just didn’t know then that we were at the cusp of a 14 year-long dry spell .  It has taken its toll on Lake Tahoe storage (just 17″ above its rim as of this writing, and almost certain to go below this summer or fall).  Pyramid Lake has fallen many feet in elevation, but what is dramatic is the amount of shore exposed by the receding water in this long-term drought.  As we’ve explained in other posts, we westerners have relied on a repeat of the precipitation patterns for this century as we have for the preceding century and a half.  So far, it’s not working out for us.

Compare these two photos (taken from locations at the south shore of Pyramid Lake in Aug 2004 and this April 2014.  The latter photo is taken from a position which shows the amount of recession Pyramid is undergoing with so much demand on the remaining flows of the Truckee River.  During the last 3 years only a fraction of the total river flow actually reached Pyramid Lake.  (The first photo takes in a larger view of the Lake, but Anaho Island and the Pyramid are visible in both images.)

August 2004 Pyramid Lake view to Anaho Island from south shore.

August 2004 Pyramid Lake view to Anaho Island from south shore.

April 2014 Pyramid Lake view to Anaho Island from south shore.

April 2014 Pyramid Lake view to Anaho Island from south shore.

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Recent scientific work reveals a dry future?

Oxbow Park on Truckee River

The USA Today reports in an article “Report: Climate change is here and getting worse” that we won’t have to wait to see the effects of a rapidly changing climate (mostly a rapidly warming climate).  Many  of us who were born in the 40s and 50s and 60s have observed this ourselves in the 14 years of the 21st century.  Young people, however, will never know the climate older westerners feel has already gone the way of the dodo.  Is it just the mis-remembrances of our own youth?

Oxbow Park on Truckee River

Truckee River at Oxbow Park. The Hunter Creek drainage of the Carson Range in the background is nearly devoid of snow by May 12, ’14.

An article on global climate change in Science News (Cloudy Forecast, March 22, 2014) reports that “warming pushes [mid-latitude] storm tracks toward the poles”. Whether or not this movement of the storm track will result in a drier future for the Truckee River along with the entire desert southwest is yet to be determined.

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