11 Billion Gallons of Water Added to Lake Tahoe, CA During Weekend’s Atmospheric River Storm

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image: noaa, today
image: noaa, today

The Atmospheric River storm that barged through Lake Tahoe, CA/NV this past weekend put 11 billion gallons of water into Lake Tahoe and raised the lake by 3.33″.

Wow.

Despite all this new water, Lake Tahoe still remains 2.5″ below it’s natural rim meaning that the Truckee River isn’t flowing in Tahoe City, CA.

“The very wet atmospheric river storms we received over the weekend provided much needed heavy rainfall to the region. Yesterday we published the storm total rainfall amounts around the region, but how much did Lake Tahoe rise as a result of all that rain?

Overall, the rain resulted in about a 3⅓ inch rise in the lake level with the vast majority coming from direct rainfall on the lake versus runoff input to the lake. However, we still remain a little over 2.5 inches below the natural rim level of 6,223 feet.

In terms of volume, that rainfall translates to an increase of about 33,600 acre-feet, or an increase of about 11 billion gallons!

For reference, that’s roughly equivalent to the average total consumptive water use in a year from the Truckee River by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority. The average metered household in the Truckee Meadows uses about 121,000 gallons a year.” – NOAA Reno, NV today

Lake Tahoe, CA.
Lake Tahoe, CA.

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9 thoughts on “11 Billion Gallons of Water Added to Lake Tahoe, CA During Weekend’s Atmospheric River Storm

  1. Really curious as to exactly what you mean by “its natural rim”. Is there a level that the Lake always was until recently, and always should be???

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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    1. Hey Josh, good question. The natural rim of Lake Tahoe is significant because once the lake’s water level is above the natural rim, water begins to flow into the Truckee River. Below the natural rim, and the lake has no outlet.

      We talk about the natural rim because there is a dam with gates where the Truckee river begins in Tahoe City, CA and that dam can artificially raise the water level of the lake to increase water storage.

      VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
      +1 (1 vote)
  2. 121,000 gallons per household a year? That would be 14 gallons every hour, 24/7. Surely that’s not correct.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    +1 (1 vote)
    1. Tim,
      According to the EPA, the average household of four people uses 400 gallons of water per day, 70% of which is used indoors. The USGS statistics say that the average person uses 80-100 gallons per day. The 121,000 gallons per year cited by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority equates to 331 gallons per day for the average household. This does appear to be in line with other national statistics. I don’t know how many of Truckee Meadows customers are vacation households, but if the percentage of vacation homes is large, then the number cited by them would seem to be out of line.

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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      1. However, this “average” for a household is skewed drastically because it also includes the water used in agriculture.

        VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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    2. MEEB is the official building guideline for appropriate water consumption expectations. Don’t know the exact numbers but they can be found there.

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      0 (0 votes)

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