Record inflows fill Lake Tahoe past natural rim

Laura Anthony Image
ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Record inflows fill Lake Tahoe past natural rim
The wet winter has filled Lake Tahoe up past its natural rim, providing both benefits and some challenges.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- With Memorial Day Weekend upon us, many here in the Bay Area are likely to head up to Lake Tahoe. And what a sight it will be.

The wet winter has filled the lake up past its natural rim, providing both benefits and some challenges.

What a difference a year makes. Thanks to record inflows, Lake Tahoe is now nearly 6 feet higher than it was last October, the highest single year increase ever.

The lake is now well above its natural rim and still going up. The comparison to last year is stunning.

The director of the Tahoe City Public Utilities District, Cindy Gustafson, likes what she sees. "It's phenomenal the difference, it's remarkable. We had such a long winter and so much precipitation, as it was coming down, we knew it was going to be a great summer," she said.

Now, with all of the water flowing through the dam at Tahoe City and heading down the Truckee River toward Squaw Valley and beyond, there is a bit of a trade off.

It's beautiful to see but also causes some concern in the short term. "It's running higher and faster and colder, so right now there's a little bit of danger. It's really impossible to get under some of the bridges, so all of the rafting companies are not open right now," Placer County Emergency Services spokesperson John McEldowney said.

But the benefits clearly outweigh the risks when it comes to Tahoe's bounty. Last year, the pier at Tahoe City's Commons Beach was dry due to the drought. The same pier today is completely surrounded by blue, pristine water.

"This is incredible. Last year, there was a size of a football field of sand out here and now we've got water," Ed Miller said.

Greg Carlisle manages kayak rentals on the beach. Last year, the water here was 500 feet farther out. "Last year, you could walk all the way out past that pier that's behind you and it was all the way in dry land," Carlisle said.

Now the lake is so high, Carlisle doesn't have much beach space to store his kayaks. But it's a problem he and many here are glad to have.