At the Lake: Lake clarity may spike |

At the Lake: Lake clarity may spike

Provided by the Tahoe Daily Tribune

Lake Tahoe may see a spike in clarity if dry weather continues through the summer months, said scientists and local agency officials who monitor the lake’s health.

Runoff from streams, which researchers have pinpointed as the major cause of the decrease in the lake’s clarity, should be among the lowest in a decade if the short and dry winter should stay status quo, researchers said.

Currently the Lake Tahoe Basin is at 45 percent of its water content in snowpack and only 65 percent of its average accumulated precipitation, according to Snotel, a snowpack monitoring service.

“Most of the variation in annual clarity is dependent on stream flow and how much snow and rain there was in the winter,” said University of California, Davis researcher Geoff Schadlow.

Unless April storms mirror the “Miracle March” activity of the last two years, or the area is bombarded by summer thunderstorms, summer 2008 may reveal some of the deepest clarity depths in years.

“Of course it’s all very speculative at this point,” said TRPA communications director Julie Regan. “Clarity is all very much runoff related. We would expect this to be a better (clarity) year than the year’s previous, but it’s too hard to say at this point.

“A lot (of clarity can be lost) due to summer thundershowers.”

Both TRPA officials and researchers from UC Davis warned that a one-year-surge in clarity, or a severe drop, does not necessarily mean the lake is trending in one direction or another.

“One of our (least-clear) years was 1997 and that was because of the New Year’s flood and later storms,” Regan said. “The last two years have been wet with late-winter storms and that may show up ” if you ask researchers they’ll tell you that we’re looking at 10-20 year trends, not just a single year.”

According to the most recently released number by UC Davis scientists, the waters of Lake Tahoe were clear to an average depth of 72.4 feet in 2005. This keeps the clarity measurement in the range where it has been for the past five years “and where it was for other multiyear periods in the 1990s, Davis researchers said, reiterating that one year does not tell the whole story. Last year’s lake clarity numbers won’t be released until July or August.

“Lake Tahoe clarity varies from year to year because precipitation varies,” said John Reuter, associate director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. “That makes it difficult to use data from any single year or even a small number of years to draw conclusions about whether the lake is improving overall or getting murkier.”

When researchers started measuring in 1968 by lowering a white secchi disk into the lake, the disk was visible at an average depth of 102.4 feet.

TRPA officials defend the overall loss of clarity with 10 years of stabilization.

“We were in a major nose-dive trend,” TRPA spokeswoman Regan said. “But we’ve stabilized over the last 10 years and now we’re making a positive impact.”

Researchers believe the runoff of fine particles and nutrients fuels algae growth which results in the loss of clarity in Lake Tahoe. The particles and nutrients enter the lake through erosion, runoff and atmospheric deposition.

Clarity is directly affected by the scattering of light by fine particles and by the absorption of light by algae.

A Sparks man was arrested in Carson City on Wednesday morning after allegedly stealing a truck near Cave Rock as a means to escape from a Stateline armed robbery.

According to South Lake Tahoe Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Williams, just before 7 a.m. Wednesday morning a man and woman arrived at the 76 gas station on Highway 50 West and Poplar Avenue where the man allegedly brandished a gun at the clerk. After getting the money, the couple left in a vehicle, said Williams.

“He did have a gun,” said station manager Jim Hickey. “He took the money, got in a van and took off.”

The clerk on duty at the time of the robbery noted the license plate number on the vehicle and immediately called police, according to Hickey.

“Evidently he did not get the gasoline he needed because he fled and ran out of gas in the area of Cave Rock,” Williams said.

Dawn Fox, 36, of Carson City, was found by Douglas County officers sitting in the disabled vehicle, according to Douglas County Undersheriff Paul Howell.

But her boyfriend, Robert Steele Nash, 36, could not be found.

That’s when he allegedly stole a truck, said Williams.

Just before 9 a.m. Carson City deputies were called to the 700 block of Curry Street by a man who claimed he’d found his truck that was stolen hours earlier from outside of his mother’s Cave Rock home.

Because the victim witnessed the truck backing out of the driveway, he and a friend were able to follow it to Carson City, where they lost sight of it at Carson Street and Snyder Avenue, according to police records.

After searching various parking lots in the city, the men discovered the truck parked on Curry Street.

As deputies were talking with the victim, they noticed a man watching from 702 Curry Street, said Deputy Rick Dodds.

When a woman exited the home, officers questioned her about the man inside and she stated it was her roommate’s boyfriend, and he probably fled out the back door because he had warrants, reports indicate.

After officers surrounded the home, the man surrendered without incident. He identified himself as Nash.

The victim told officers the glasses on Nash’s head were his missing from the truck, the report states.

Upon further questioning, the woman said Nash told her his girlfriend was arrested, he had run out of gas and his father had let him use a truck, allegedly pointing to the stolen Ford F-250.

A search of the residence allegedly yielded the recovery of the truck keys from a bathroom garbage can and the victim’s credit cards and business cards from the medicine cabinet.

The report states officers also found in the truck a receipt for Winner’s Corner gas station for which the victim’s credit card was used.

A deputy went to the convenience store and watched the video which allegedly showed Nash purchasing a carton of cigarettes, a knit hat and a newspaper.

Nash was booked into the Carson City Jail on suspicion of felony fraudulent use of a credit card, obtaining money under false pretenses and possession of stolen property. His bail is set at $25,000.

Fox is being held in the Douglas County’s jail in Stateline on suspicion of felony possession of a controlled substance. Her bail is set at $5,000.

The vehicle she was in was seized for inspection by South Lake Tahoe officials.

Charges against the two have yet to be filed in relation to the armed robbery.

In Don Amaral’s eight seasons at Whittell High, his baseball team has never came back from a nine-run deficit to win a game.

After some familiar play in a 13-11 nonleague loss to Smith Valley on Tuesday at Lampe Park, Amaral is still waiting for it to happen.

“We had them down to two outs and we couldn’t make the play,” Amaral said. “We’re still learning how to put it all together, but we can’t keep making mistake after mistake.”

Down 10-1, Whittell scored 10 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take an 11-10 lead into the top of the seventh. But three fielding errors ” including one on a pop fly with two outs ” doomed the Warriors, who fell to 2-6-2 on the season.

Amaral’s previous best comeback was in the 2000 2A state tournament quarterfinals, where the Warriors came back from six runs run down to win.

It was Smith Valley’s third win of the season over Whittell. The previous two games were one-run affairs (3-2, 5-4), but Tuesday’s game had all the makings of a blowout.

The Bulldogs (5-3) scored eight unearned runs and opened a 3-1 lead by the second inning because of three Whittell errors. Smith Valley extended its lead to 5-1 following two wild pitches in the top of the third.

By the sixth inning, Whittell looked lifeless, with only two hits offensively. That all changed in the bottom of the sixth, when Nick Shepack and R.J. Gardner hit back-to-back singles to energize the Warriors’ bats.

Ben Ward then smacked a RBI single and Rio Delucia followed with another single to load the bases. Smith Valley pitcher Martin Cortes then got flustered, walking two batters with the bases loaded and giving up RBI singles to Sam Harris and Adam Laub.

After Martin hit Carter Amaral to make it 10-7, there was one out and the bases remained loaded for Diego Verdugo, who replaced Martin. Although Verdugo got the second out immediately, things continued to turn south for the Bulldogs.

Gardner reached on an error and both Amaral and Laub scored on an throwing error. Suddenly, Whittell was ahead 11-10 and it appeared Laub, who replaced Jordan Morgan in the fourth inning, would get the win on the mound.

“We just made some mistakes,” said Smith Valley coach David Vick. “We should’ve closed it out earlier and we didn’t do it. We let them back into the game with errors and mental mistakes.”

But Smith Valley scored three runs off two hits in the top of the seventh and Verdugo retired the side in the bottom of the seventh. The Warriors, who are chasing their eighth consecutive regional playoff berth, open Northern 2A play at Lovelock on Saturday, March 31.

“We don’t have much time to get things right,” coach Amaral said. “We’re still learning to win games right now.”

Austyn Harrington went 3 for 3 and struck out four batters in getting the win on the mound as the Whittell softball team beat Virginia City 17-6 on Tuesday in Virginia City. Courtney Fields also went a perfect 3 for 3, while Justin Pritzker went 3 for 4 for the Warriors, who won in five innings.

Abby Kingman and Megan Esquivel both went 2 for 3 with a triple. Whittell (8-2) had its nonleague game on Wednesday against Smith Valley canceled.