Citing the convergence of drought, record precipitation, and warm temperatures, researchers announced Wednesday that Lake Tahoe’s famed clarity declined 9.5 feet in 2017, reports the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
The numbers from the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) follow a 3.9-foot decrease in average annual clarity in 2016.
“In 2017, Lake Tahoe’s low clarity was primarily the result of two extreme climatic and hydrologic events — a perfect storm, so to speak,” TERC Director Geoffrey Schladow, a professor of engineering at UC Davis, said in a statement. “The combination of arguably the most extreme drought period ending with the most extreme precipitation year produced the low clarity values seen. Measurements for 2018 have already shown a large improvement that are more in line with the long-term trend.”
The five-year average lake clarity is approximately 70 feet and although the clarity measurement plummeted past the previous lowest recorded average of 64.1 feet, which was recorded in 1997, officials pointed out that clarity can swing greatly from year to year and from season to season.