Lake Tahoe Dips Below Natural Rim

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On Tuesday, October 14 the water level of Lake Tahoe dropped below the natural rim. Lake Tahoe’s natural rim sits at an elevation of 6223 feet. The dam in Tahoe City, originally built in 1870,  adds six feet of capacity to the Lake. The U.S. Geological Survey has been monitoring the elevation of Lake Tahoe since 1900. In that time the Lake has fallen below the natural rim eighteen times.

Tahoe’s water is recharged by snowmelt in the spring and slowly decreases throughout the year, however the past few winters have been very dry and provided less water than usual for the Lake. This is another reminder of the impacts that drought can have on our environment and emphasizes the need for everyone to conserve our precious water resources. The last time Lake Tahoe fell below the natural rim was during the winter of 2009-2010. There have been two periods on record where the Lake elevation fell below the natural rim for an extended period of time, from 1930 to 1936 and again from 1988 to 1995.

The following table shows previous years and the number of days the Lake was below the natural rim. Current Lake elevation readings are available through the USGS website.

Year Days Below Natural Rim
1961
67
1962
39
1975
3
1977
101
1978
4
1988
80
1989
63
1990
108
1991
365
1992
365
1993
251
1994
365
1995
73
2002
1
2003
19
2004
106
2005
10
2009
68
2010
23
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