After an extremely dry December, January and February, the Sierra snowpack was near record-low levels. TMWA’s reservoir storage was at its legal limit, but the region was still bracing for a meager runoff season – especially compared to the record-setting winter of 2017.
The water supply outlook completely changed in March. Waves of significant winter storms brought precipitation totals to more than 200% of the March average, doubling and even tripling the amount of snow in some areas.
While the official April 1st snowpack values for the season ended up below average (75% in both the Lake Tahoe and Truckee River basins), the streamflow runoff forecasts for this spring are very good with near-normal volumes expected. This outcome is partially due to watershed soils being fairly well saturated from last winter.
The solid runoff totals mean that Lake Tahoe and all other reservoirs on the Truckee River system will fill for the second, consecutive year, which is something that has not happened in quite some time. As a result, the Truckee River is expected to flow normally for the foreseeable future.
Full upstream reservoirs and normal river flows mean that the water supply outlook for the Truckee Meadows is excellent!