The Truckee River during the drought was often a trickle at Lake Tahoe. When the Lake was barely above or below its rim, little or no water flowed into the river. Until this winter kicked in, Lake Tahoe has been very close or below its rim since the summer of 2014 resulting in greatly reduced Truckee River flows pretty much through 2016. Now, however, the water surface elevation at Lake Tahoe is 6,227.7 feet – or 1.4 feet from its maximum legal elevation thanks to the record rain and snow.
Today, flows from Lake Tahoe into the Truckee River are running 2,000 cubic-feet-per-second (CFS). A week ago flows were around 1,200 CFS and went up to a little more than 1,600 CFS for five days before jumping higher today.
This spring will see more water in the Truckee River than we saw after the big winter of 2005-2006. That summer, Lake Tahoe didn’t quite reach its maximum legal elevation. This year forecasts are calling for the Lake to reach that milestone (6,229.1 feet). It hasn’t actually been that full for 20 years.
As I said in an earlier post, let’s hope that this isn’t a “one of a kind” winter, but we have a followup with a wet one in 2017-2018, too.