Climate at a Glance: Water Levels – Lake Tahoe

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe by Mariusz Blach. Licensed for use by 123RF.

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Bullet-Point Summary:

  • Lake Tahoe has reached the maximum allowable water level during each of the past three years (2017-19), requiring special water releases into the Truckee River.
  • The 2015-16 northern California drought was very brief and followed by three consecutive years of abundant precipitation and maximum allowable Lake Tahoe water levels.
  • Alarmists claiming the 2015-16 drought signaled a “new normal” of drought and low water levels caused by climate change have been embarrassed and proven wrong.

Short Summary: Alarmists and their media allies frequently asserted (see here and here, for example) that the 2015-16 California drought and low Lake Tahoe water levels signaled a “new normal.” Since then, however, Lake Tahoe water level has reached its maximum allowable limit of nine feet above gage height (6,229 feet elevation) during each of the past three years, requiring special water releases into the Truckee River. This is shown in Figure 1, below.

A close up of a map

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Figure 1: Lake Tahoe has reached its maximum allowable limit during each of the past three years, as measured by the U.S. Geological Survey. Source: U.S. Geological Survey: https://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/nwisweb/graph?agency_cd=USGS&site_no=10337000&parm_cd=00065&period=4478.

As often happens, climate alarmists claimed a normal, variable event like a brief drought signaled a permanent climate emergency, only to be proven wrong yet again.


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