Images Via Wiki Commons

A heat wave this past week led to a massive snow-melt runoff event in the Tahoe region, causing hydrologists to quickly crunch numbers before Tahoe namesake lake reaches its maximum capacity.

Related: Northern California Is Having Its ‘Wettest’ Year On Record But Not The Snowiest

The massive winter that Tahoe just experienced not only brought water levels up past the drought level, the lake level could cause problems if it continues to rise so rapidly. So far more than 12 billion gallons of water have poured into the lake over the past week alone.

“It’s not typical to spill at all,” says U.S. District Court Water Master Chad Blanchard who told the San Francisco Chronicle “It’s only on the big years when you have to release water.”

The enormous runoff resulted in the lake level rising four inches in just two weeks with a grand total of 12 billion gallons of water being added to the lake itself. Though California has faced years of drought the sudden onslaught of water poses a real threat of flooding in the area.

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To protect the lake from over filling, the dam in Tahoe City, which regulates Lake Tahoe’s water levels, has been open for 120 consecutive days. That prolonged opening released billions of gallons into the Truckee River over the past four months in order to make sure the lake’s water levels don’t get to a dangerous level and exceed the legal limit.

Notable Numbers:

  • Tahoe snowpack is currently 125% of its normal
  • Lake rose 4″ in the last week
  • 12 billion gallons of water added in the last week
  • Truckee River Flow (*Tahoe City) — 1,100cfs
  • Lake Tahoe boasting highest level in 11 years

*Video courtesy of AMHQ

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