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Experts say stream runoff has peaked

By Jeff DeLong • jdelong@rgj.com • May 24, 2008

Runoff in area streams and rivers has peaked, and Lake Tahoe probably won't rise more than another inch or so before it starts dropping in the summer heat, experts said Friday.

That spate of high heat that broke many records a week ago quickly melted the snowpack, causing streams to rise and the Truckee River to turn a muddy brown. Highs in Reno exceeded 90 degrees four consecutive days, ending Monday.

"It pretty much came off in one big flush," said Dan Greenlee, a hydrologist with the National Resource Conservation Service in Reno. "I think we've peaked. Once it warms back up again if it doesn't come back up, we'll know for sure."

Chad Blanchard, chief deputy of the Federal Water Master's Office in Reno, agreed that this year's runoff has hit its peak and will be on a diminishing trend. Natural runoff of the Truckee River peaked May 17 while the Carson River peaked the next day, Blanchard said.

On Friday, Lake Tahoe's level was measured at 6,225.39 feet. While thunderstorms forecast through the weekend could change things if they produce sufficient rain, Blanchard said he doesn't expect Tahoe's level to rise more than an inch or two beyond current levels.

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