Lake Tahoe water levels fell to four-year low on Tuesday as gusts of wind and the effects of devastating California drought hit the tourist destination popular.
After days of high winds that increased evaporation rates, water levels fell to the natural edge of the basin for the first time since 2017, the end of the state 's latest drought. The lake normally sits above the rim allowing water to flow into the Truckee River. Levels are likely to continue to decline, retreating below the edge this week, earlier than expected.
Although lake water levels have dropped to this point several times in recent years, this week's drop concerns researchers like Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC Davis Center for Environmental Research Tahoe.
"It 'sa sign of change by the lake," said Schladow. "Change is very difficult to manage ... When we let's start seeing things we've never experienced before at a higher frequency, that's a challenge. "
Managers reported earlier this year that Lake Tahoe was having its third driest year since 1910. Between June 2020 and June 2021, the lake dropped about 3 feet.
Once the lake falls below its natural edge, it will stop flowing into the Truckee River, cutting off a major water source at the river, and the area will see more seaweed washing up on beaches. The conditionsWinter ions will ultimately determine how long the low water levels last and the extent of the impacts in the region. Although snow fell in the area last month, water levels could drop below the rim next summer with even an average year of precipitation, Schladow said.
"For me, the big danger is next summer " he said.
Falling lake levels are already affecting the shoreline, drying up inlets and boat ramps and forcing tour boat operators to find new ways to bring guests to the water. 'water, on San Francisco Chronicle reported.
"You cannot get within 150 yards of the normal shore" in South Lake Tahoe, Kelsey told the newspaper Weist, ownere of Clearly Tahoe, which runs tours around the lake. .
The whole region is grappling with the effects of drought and the climate crisis. The US Forest Service canceled the annual Lake Tahoe Fall Salmon Festival because low water levels meant Kokanee salmon would not spawn in nearby Taylor Creek.
Lake Tahoe has experienced unusually high water temperatures during the summer, a worrying development as the warmer water makes the lake more welcoming to invasive species.
In the meantime, the Caldor's fire endangered the region, forcing massive evacuations, upsetting the tourism industry andshowering the region - and the lake - in thick ash. Smoke from the fire has cooled the water temperature and reduced the clarity in the lake, and researchers are still assessing its impact.
The Crisis climate will have major effects on the lake in the coming years, the warming of the water, the impact on oxygen levels and the potential increase in wind events that could reduce water levels further. 'water.
Schladow said tackling climate change largely required action at the global level, but were things that could be done locally to help the lake. Decreased driving in the Taho basin would help reduce algae growth in the lake, as would using less fertilizer on lawns and gardens.
" Much of what we advocate is to try to strengthen the resilienceience of the lake to climate change, ”he said. "It's going to continue to happen - how can we make the lake better able to withstand it?" "