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Is There a Drought in the Sierra?

TitleIs There a Drought in the Sierra?
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2004-12-07
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment #95 - "Years of Drought" (Air Date: December 7, 2004). Gary Barbato from the National Weather Service discusses the impact that five years of drought have had on the Lake Tahoe region, specifically on snowpack and reserve.
SubjectDroughts -- Tahoe, Lake, Region (Calif. and Nev.)
LocationLake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.)
Tahoe, Lake (Calif. and Nev.)
CollectionThe Lake Tahoe Report
Original PublisherLake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (
Electronic PublisherUniversity of Nevada, Reno - Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies
Ordering and Permissions InformationFor more information, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, or 775-832-4138.
Date Digital2005-03-14
RelationRequires Windows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSegment 95: Drought Air Date: December 7, 2004 Anchor Intro: Despite a big snowstorm in October and another one over Thanksgiving weekend, we are in the middle of a drought. The last year we had a normal amount of precipitation was in 1999. And 2001 was a record dry year. Shelly Purdy explains the drought situation in tonight's Lake Tahoe Report. ((Take PKG)) ((track 1)) Five years of drought have taken their toll on the water supply in the Sierra. Lake Tahoe is below its natural rim, and there is no water at all going through the Tahoe City Dam. The Truckee River is nearly dry in spots. And the situation in other area reservoirs is equally as bad. The recent rainfall we've had has been good to get some water back into the ground, but so far it hasn't done much to improve the drought situation. Though the current water year has started off well, it's going to take a record breaker to recover from so many years of drought. ((sot @ 17:57 Gary Barbato, National Weather Service)) "In an extremely wet year you can get a lot in a hurry, but those years are very rare." ((track 2)) The good news is it's only December and the winter months which typically bring the heaviest amount of precipitation are still to come. The other good news, there's healthy amount of snow in the mountains. It is the snowpack that will determine just how much water fills our reservoirs this spring and summer. ((sot @ 15:06 Gary Barbato, National Weather Service)) "We have two kinds of reservoirs in the Sierra. We have snowpack and the reservoirs which hold melted water. The snow can hold an incredible amount of water and the snow keeps that water up in the mountains until it melts. Rather than if we have a warm storm it'll all go into the reservoirs. It wouldn't really help us We want water in the reservoirs and the snowpack to give us water supply through the summer." ((track 3)) So what does this winter have in store for us? Forecasters are predicting average precipitation. If that happens, it probably won't be enough to fill Lake Tahoe and bump us out of the drought. But then again, you never know… ((s/u @ 6:37 standup tape, Shelly Purdy)) "The bottom line is it's still a kraps shoot. We won't know what this winter brings until it's over. With the Lake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, I'm Shelly Purdy for KOLO News Channel 8." Anchor Tag: One little bit of weather trivia…of the ten wettest Octobers on record, seven of those years ended up with average or above average precipitation. Since this past October ranks sixth in that top ten, we might have a chance at a big winter.

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