High water brings crowded beaches to Topaz Lake
May 29, 2017
High water on the Walker River made for crowded beaches at Topaz Lake and minor flooding in Mason Valley.
Half of the snowpack at the top of the Walker River basin has melted off over the past month, and National Weather Service forecasters are predicting the rest won't last long with current warm temperatures.
The snow was 53 inches deep on Monday morning at the top of Sonora Pass, according to Natural Resources Conservation Service snow telemetry. That's half of the 106 inches recorded by the sensor, located at 8,770 feet, on April 30. There is still 30.2 inches of water locked in the snowpack. The median snow water equivalent for May 29 is about an inch. Low temperatures at the pass are in the upper 30s, with highs cracking 60 degrees.
California Department of Transportation crews say it will be at least two weeks before the pass is cleared for motorists.
Topaz Lake in southern Douglas County has 32,590 acre feet of water as of Monday afternoon.
According to a flood warning issued by the National Weather Service, the Walker River is expected to see continued high runoff well into June.
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The river is expected to rise to a foot above flood stage by Thursday, inundating pastures and farmlands near Yerington and flooding some rural routes.
"Preventative sandbagging of low structures in Mason and Yerington may be necessary as the river rises," forecasters said.
A flood advisory affecting the Carson and Walker rivers in Douglas County was extended until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Continued warm temperatures could bring thundershowers to the Sierra today, with high temperatures approaching 90 degrees. A weak low pressure system is expected to bring cooler temperatures on Wednesday along with a chance of showers.