An incoming heat wave this weekend will trigger rapid snowmelt on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The Nevada Irrigation District (NID) is anticipating high flows, cold water and dangerous conditions in rivers and waterways.
“With warming temperatures, it may be tempting to head to the water. NID asks the public to be mindful that the rapid melt will create river levels exceeding flows in recent years,” said the District's Director of Power Systems Keane Sommers. “Additionally, the water is very cold and could limit your ability to save yourself. The high flows and cold temperatures will combine to result in an increased risk around local waterways.”
California’s snowpack is forecasted to melt quickly as air temperatures soar -- rising into the 80s this weekend. Even at Bowman Lake (elevation 4,030 feet), temperatures are forecasted at a high of 70 degrees and low of the upper 40 degrees.
The National Weather Service indicates water temperatures are in the mid-30s to low 40s in higher elevations near Lake Tahoe and Truckee. In the foothills, water temperatures are in the 40s and 50s.
This weekend, flows in the District’s upper elevation reservoirs are expected to pick up greatly. Jackson Meadows and Bowman Dam are already spilling.
While there is widespread flooding forecasted for portions of California, NID is positioned to fare better. In fact, flows down the Bear River have already peaked, according to NID’s Director of Operations Chip Close.
“I don’t believe there is any cause for alarm at this point. The weather is on our side as the coming heat spell is forecast to be short lived with cold temps moving back in next week,” said Close.