Warm temperatures raising river levels
May 4, 2017
Cars on Mottsville Lane left wakes like motorboats on Thursday after warm temperatures contributed to high water on the West Fork of the Carson River.
Always one of the first Carson Valley thoroughfares to see water over the roadway, county officials predict the main route between Gardnerville and Kingsbury Grade won't be dry until late summer.
The West Fork crested at 13.56 feet at midnight Wednesday near Woodfords, according to a U.S. Geological Survey gage. The flood stage set by the National Weather Service is 14 feet.
It generally takes several hours for that crest to reach Mottsville. The west and east forks of the river merge just south of Genoa Lane on the Riverfork Ranch.
The West Fork is fed from the top of Carson Pass where the equivalent of 51.2 inches of water remains locked in the snowpack, or 185 percent of median.
But temperatures on the mountain are warming up. The high temperature at Carson Pass hit 64 degrees on Wednesday, the warmest it has been in a month, while the low temperature dropped to 40 degrees. Wednesday was the third day in a row with low temperatures above freezing. The Natural Resource Conservation Service maintains sensors throughout the Sierra to determine the depth and water equivalent of snowfall.
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At the head of the East Fork, high temperatures at Ebbetts Pass have hit 67 degrees, with low temperatures increasing above freezing starting Saturday, and hitting 39 degrees, according to snow telemetry.
The equivalent of 78 inches of water is locked up in an 11-foot deep snowpack, as of midnight Wednesday.
The East Fork crested at 6.52 feet shortly after midnight on Thursday near Markleeville. The flood stage is 8 feet at that site.
Coming into Carson Valley, the East Fork came a bit closer to the flood stage of 13.4 feet, cresting at 12.56 feet near the old Power Dam southeast of Gardnerville at 3:25 a.m. Thursday.
High temperatures are expected to peak today at 82 degrees, with a chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms this afternoon. Temperatures are expected to cool down over the weekend, dropping into the upper 50s on Saturday.
A chance of showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue through next week.