One Crazy Winter…

As we all know, Tahoe had a great, crazy winter. Tons of snow, monsoon rains and the Lake is up about 5′ already this year. They say that even with all of the gates open at the Tahoe City Dam the Lake level could continue to rise. They also say this could be largest one-year rise in lake level ever.


We’ve had big temperature fluctuations lately from the 60’s to snow. Runoff has been amazing. Tahoe mountainsides are springing leaks anywhere possible to let out the pressure and get water downhill. It’s been wild to see.


This is the old store on Mt. Rose Highway. Roof collapsed this winter under huge snow loads.



I’ve never seen this before. Double-pile (aka two pier pilings per side) pier deck collapse on the West Shore.


A few other interesting facts:

  • The Lake Tahoe Basin received 10 more inches of precipitation than any year in recorded history, going back to 1910


  • In a two-day span from Dec. 9 through 11 Lake Tahoe gained 8,690,131,707 gallons of fresh water.


  • Monitor Pass had its latest opening in 13 years.

Kings Beach Elementary receives California Gold Ribbon Award

Great stuff for those who are considering or already send their kids to the Spanish immersion elementary school in Kings Beach:

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2016 California Gold Ribbon Schools Award

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 779 elementary schools are being honored under the Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program

The list of recognized schools is attached at the end of this press release.

“These schools shine as bright beacons for others, putting forth an exemplary effort to ensure that every student is ready for 21st century college and careers,” Torlakson said. “California teachers are developing an education model for the nation, training the students of today to be the problem-solvers, inventors, and pioneers of tomorrow.”

The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to honor schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while California creates new assessment and accountability systems. Nearly 6,000 elementary schools were eligible to apply this year.

Schools applied for the award based on a model program or practice their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies. The award recognized middle and high schools last year.

The Gold Ribbon Awards recognize California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education. These include the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.

The 2016 Elementary Gold Ribbon Schools as well as the 2016 Exemplary Program recipients, Title I Academic Achieving Schools, 2016 Green Ribbon Schools, 2016 Civic Learning Award Schools, and the National Blue Ribbon Schools from 2015, will be honored in May/June during regional ceremonies held in Santa Clara, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Visalia, and Sacramento.

The Gold Ribbon Schools being recognized for Exemplary Programs in Arts Education and Physical Education and Nutrition, or receiving the Title I Academic Achievement Award, will be announced soon.

Please visit the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program on the California Department of Education’s (CDE’s) Web site.

The CDE California School Recognition Program is presented by San Mateo-based California Casualty.

See the list of schools here.

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Tahoe’s ever changing Lake Level

We are right at the natural rim of the Lake! Tahoe has risen about an inch this month. In early March it rose 1/2″ in a day and a half. For the middle of winter, this is a significant amount of water entering the Lake. The graph above shows that the measuring buoy was dry through mid-January.

Tahoe has risen roughly 10″ since winter started. According to the Watermaster, who I talk to throughout the year, after a normal winter (450″ of snow) the Lake rises about 18″. Another expert told me it can rise 3 feet from an average winter. Of course, the big variable is how much water Reno takes. The 6′ of water above Tahoe’s natural rim is  reservoir for Reno.

USGS DescriptionElevation (ft)

Maximum legal limit 6,229.1

Natural rim of lake 6,223

Gage Datum 6,220

Note: Current lake elevation = 6,220 + Current gage height.

When I lived at West Shore lakefront I watched the Lake rise at what seemed like an inch per day. It was amazing. A friend had lived there the previous 5 years and the pier was unusable the entire time. After the big spring when I lived there, we were doing flips of the pier and catching fish at sunset.

There’s a great article on ‘Tahoe’s Water Wars’ that I link to below but first, here is a quote from it:

“Armed confrontations were barely averted between Tahoe residents and hired hands doing the bidding of farmers in Fallon. In the middle of a hot August night in 1930, Nevada “water interests” sent a steam shovel under police escort to the Tahoe Dam to dig a trench around it on land owned by Sierra Pacific Power Co. (successor to the Truckee River General Electric Co.) A violent clash between Tahoe locals and the Nevada crew was narrowly avoided when a deputy sheriff issued a cease and desist order to the steam shovel operator. Tahoe residents stood guard at the dam all night as rumors spread that Nevadans might be tempted to blast an opening in the natural rim with dynamite. The following night, the steam shovel was vandalized and the newly dug ditch partially filled back in. A court injunction soon put a stop to Nevada’s bold but illegal attempt to bypass the dam.” Click here to read entire article.

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Kind Words from a client

I received this letter from a client on the Fourth of July – good stuff!


“July 4th, 2015

Another way to celebrate fourth of July is to thank an EXCEPTIONAL American realtor: ALEX WEST, because he is the BEST!

Alex, my wife Awatif and I thank you for your great AMERICAN VALUES that you have demonstrated to us from the minute we walked in to your office: You were very COURTEOUS with POSITIVE ENERGY. You BELIEVED in us being buyers, without hesitation, showed total DEDICATION, VALUED us by taking the time and coming up with all properties for sale; numbered and detailed with direction how to get to them.

Your DETERMINATION brought us the feeling of a serious buyer. To this date, I do not believe we own as we were NOT buyers when we walked in to your office. Your ATTENTION, KNOWLEDGE and PROFESSIONALISM resulted in our benefit.

We sincerely believe that without your help and SERVICE we wouldn’t own a property in Truckee. It’s not the money that buys a property, it is belief, positive energy and character – ALL GREAT VALUES of ALEX WEST.

People like you make America great!

Thank you again,

Awatif C. & Noor W.”

Surf Tahoe…again

For the second time since December, Tahoe saw waves in excess of 6 feet. Years ago it was a small crew that would venture out at a few spots along the North Shore. But like everything else, times have changed and now you’ll sometimes see a dozen folks in the water including a stand up paddleboarder or two. The breaks from Carnelian Bay clear through Incline and down the East Shore seldom go without someone in the water. But even still it’s an incredible experience – and sometimes you can  find yourself alone even in a spot as busy and visible as The Cape Cod House in Tahoe Vista. Yesterday morning I was lucky. I arrived to one guy in the water who had some serious skills and just two photographers on shore – one was a pro, the other aspiring (judging by the length of their lenses!). The wind hadn’t yet peaked but it was sunny and the apparent wind was minimal – so instead of waiting for bigger sets I went out while conditions were cushy – for Tahoe. After a little while the good surfer went in, I stayed out solo, then after I caught my first wave I noticed the photographers left. Must have been because the sun went away, right? I’m the first to admit that I’m a mediocre surfer but I enjoy it as much as anyone. The three highlights of this particular session: I stood up for the first time since a bad injury 4 years ago; our 2 year old stood on shore and watched me catch one; as I was about to finish up, I looked to shore and saw my wife in her wetsuit scrambling down the cliff to join me. Ahhhh, Tahoe!

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Snow Problem

According to my favorite weather ‘geek’ we are going to see a change in the weather which should lead to more precip. Here’s a link to his page (I recommend joining the e-newsletter list; he only send when appropriate):

“The storm door is opening, folks. Now we just need to hope for snow and not just rain.

The high pressure that’s been blocking our storms all winter is pulling apart and opening a path to California and the Sierra for a series of storms moving in from the Pacific.

The first system is due late tonight into Tuesday, and it will be a warm one. Precipitation is likely to be focused just north of Tahoe with some showers possible  over the Basin. The dry air that’s present near the surface will limit the amount of precip that reaches the ground, and snow levels will be high. While they might initially be around 6000 or 7000 feet, that is likely to be brief, and they are forecast to rise to around 8000 feet as the storm moistens and warms the air. But there will be not be much moisture for us either way.

This one is tapping into a plume of sub-tropical moisture and could drop 1 to 2 inches of precipitation (measured in water-content) on the Sierra. With that warm moisture tap this storm will also see high snow levels, at least initially, probably between 7000 and 8000 feet.

But those should drop as the cold front swings through on Thursday,  hopefully to below 7000 feet.  Snow-to-water ratios will be weak — below 10 to 1 — but even at that rate we should see 1 to 2 feet of snow above 8000 feet, with smaller amounts below those elevations.

It looks like we will start drying out on Friday, but the weather will remain unsettled and we could see some snow into the weekend.

Stay tuned for more details.

Check for updates.

As always, if you know someone who might want to receive the Tahoe Weather Geek’s free forecast summaries, please forward them this email. Anyone can subscribe by sending an e-mail to with “subscribe” in the subject line. Your email address will not be sold or shared for commercial purposes and you will not be spammed.”

Reno Tahoe reaches “Tipping Point” with over 50 Top Ten Awards

Check out this interesting article:

Reno, NV (PRWEB) December 11, 2013

Travelers looking for a fun, safe, affordable, sunny, beautiful, hip and varied vacation destination should check out Northern Nevada’s Reno Tahoe area, according to more than 50 varied publications and websites, from A (AOL Real Estate) to Z ( The four season, high desert resort destination that encompasses Reno, Sparks and North Lake Tahoe has been recognized for excellence on more than 50 occasions – in a wide variety of national publications and online rankings – over the course of the past 24 months, and the “Top 10” accolades just keep on coming.

“It’s pretty incredible to be ranked #9 on the list of ‘100 Best Places to Live’ (, #5 on ‘Top Spots for Winter Vacations’ (The Weather Channel) and as one of the ‘20 Most Crime-Free Cities in America’ (AOL Real Estate), while offering the #1 Lake in America, Lake Tahoe (USA Today Reader’s Poll) and the #1 Ski Resort, Squaw Valley (Men’s Journal), as well as the #1 ranking for ‘Underestimated Cities for Food’ (The Daily Meal),” according to Christopher Baum, President and CEO of Reno Tahoe USA. “It’s especially surprising when you consider that this is a resort area that most Americans haven’t visited… yet,” said Baum, “But we’re confident that THAT is about to change.”

Reno-Tahoe International Airport is the gateway to nearby Lake Tahoe’s world class skiing for the vast majority of visitors. And with an early storm recently dumping two-to-three feet of fresh powder in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, listed as one of “11 of the World’s Most Beautiful Mountain Ranges” by, it will be difficult to find a better winter sports getaway this season, according to authorities such as:

  •     Buzzfeed Travel, which ranked Lake Tahoe #1 among “34 Places that are Even Better During Winter.”
  •     National Geographic Magazine, which recently highlighted Reno as one of its “Top 10 Emerging Ski Towns.”
  •     Men’s Journal, which recognized top-ranked Squaw Valley, as well as nearby Northstar and Kirkwood, as having some of the “Best Ski Schools in the U.S.”
  •, which ranked Squaw Valley USA one of the Top 10 “Best Ski Resorts in North America.”
  •, which cited Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe (just a 25 minute drive from downtown Reno) as one of the “10 Hippest Ski Areas You Rarely Hear About.”
  •     Forbes, which also picked Squaw Valley as one of their “Top 10 U.S. Ski Resorts.”

Besides its top overall rating from the readers of USA Today, Lake Tahoe also picked up several additional noteworthy warm weather awards:

  •     Yahoo! Travel included North America’s highest alpine lake in its international list of “10 Lakeside Vacations that Have it All.”
  • voted Sand Harbor at Incline Village, Lake Tahoe one of the “10 Best Beaches for Families.”
  •     Yahoo! Shine named Lake Tahoe as a Top 10 lake vacation “Best for Celebrating a Western Icon.”

In addition to its #1 rating from The Daily Meal, and Campo’s selection by Esquire Magazine as one of “The Best New Restaurants in America,” the region’s diverse and rapidly expanding food scene also was recognized as follows:

  •     The local GourMelt Grilled Cheese Truck earned double honors this year as one of the “10 Best Grilled Cheese Trucks” by and also as one of the “101 Best Food Trucks in America” by The Daily Meal.
  •     Chapel Tavern in Reno’s hip MidTown District was recently named one of the “10 Best Places to Drink Rum” in the country by
  •     A mainstay in downtown Reno for more than 50 years, the Awful Awful was listed as one of the “51 Great Burger Joints Across the U.S.” by USA Today.

Additional recognition for Northern Nevada also came for several of the area’s top Special Events:

Lake Tahoe Restoration Bill Introduced

Dianne Feinstein owns a lakefront on Tahoe’s fabled Gold Coast of Rubicon Bay. At the end of 2011 she purchased (off-MLS of course) an adjoining parcel adding to her frontage and overall parcel size quite substantially. I only mention this as an aside. The point of this blog post is to share Sen. Feinstein’s introduction of a bill which would benefit Lake Tahoe greatly over the next 10 years. I am an occasional docent with the UC Davis outreach program and receive detailed information on these sorts of developments so I have also Sen. Feinstien’s floor statements which you may download if you’d like more detail:


“Authorizes $415 million for programs to improve water clarity, reduce wildfire threat, combat invasive species

Washington—U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, a bill to restore Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Basin and protect the region from a number of imminent threats. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act continues the federal commitment to Lake Tahoe by authorizing $415 million over 10 years to will improve Lake Tahoe’s water clarity, reduce risks from catastrophic wildfires, combat invasive species and restore and protect the environment in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

“I strongly believe we have a duty to protect Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful and pristine spots in our country,” said Senator Feinstein. “Even in times of fiscal austerity, we cannot ignore the natural wonders that define our country. Lake Tahoe continues to suffer from pollution and sedimentation that reduces the lake’s remarkable water clarity, the potential for devastating wildfires remains high and a variety of invasive species threaten to devastate the region’s economy.

Feinstein continued: “The public-private partnership established in the basin 17 years ago has resulted in significant environmental gains. This bill doubles down on the work already done, offering us the opportunity to continue this important work so future generations can continues to enjoy the Jewel of the Sierra.”

Senator Reid said: “Lake Tahoe is such a treasure in Nevada and we’re privileged to share it with California. Lake Tahoe is one of the purist lakes in the world, and it is vital that we protect it. The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act takes major steps to guard the Jewel of the Sierras against pollution, wildfire and invasive species while funding critical watershed restoration and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout recovery efforts.”

Senator Heller said: “Any visitor to Lake Tahoe can attest to its beauty and the need to preserve this valuable resource for generations to come. Preventing catastrophic wildfires, increasing lake clarity and providing for critical infrastructure are important tools that will help foster the long-term ecological health of the Tahoe Basin. Responsibility to protect this natural treasure belongs to Nevada and California, which is why I am pleased to work with my colleagues on this bill.”

Senator Boxer said: “Lake Tahoe has always been one of California’s most magnificent treasures. Our bill builds on more than a decade of work to help restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe’s waters, reduce the threat of wildfires, and prevent the spread of harmful invasive species.”

The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act does the following:

Restores Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Basin. The legislation authorizes $243 million over 10 years for the highest-priority restoration projects based on scientific data. The legislation authorizes at least $138 million for stormwater management and watershed restoration projects that are scientifically-determined to be the most effective ways to improve water clarity. The legislation also requires a prioritized ranking of environmental restoration projects and authorizes $80 million for the Lake Tahoe stakeholders to implement these priority projects. Implementation of priority projects will improve water quality, forest health, air quality and fish and wildlife habitat around Lake Tahoe.

Reduces the threat of wildfire in the Tahoe Basin. Authorizes $135 million over 10 years for hazardous fuels reduction projects to reduce the threat of fire in the Lake Tahoe Basin. It also creates incentives for local communities to have dedicated funding for defensible space inspections and enforcement.

Protects Lake Tahoe from the threat of Quagga mussels and other invasive aquatic species. The bill provides $30 million for watercraft inspections and removal of existing invasive species and requires all watercraft be inspected to prevent the introduction of invasive aquatic species in accordance with the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan.
Supports reintroduction of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. The legislation authorizes $20 million over 10 years for the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Recovery Plan. The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is an iconic species that has an important historic legacy in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is one of the historic 11 lakes that had Lahontan Cutthroat Trout in the past and is a critical part of the strategy to recover the species.

Funds scientific research. The bill authorizes $30 million over 10 years for scientific programs and research that will produce information on long-term trends in the Basin and inform the most cost-effective projects.
Prohibits mining operations in the Tahoe Basin. The legislation would prevent the start of any mining operations in the basin, ensuring the fragile watershed and Lake Tahoe’s water clarity are not threatened by pollution from mining operations.

Increases accountability and oversight. All projects funded by this legislation will have monitoring and assessment in order to determine the most cost-effective projects and best management practices for future projects. The legislation also requires an annual report to Congress detailing the status of all projects undertaken including project scope, budget and justification as well as overall expenditures and accomplishments.

Provides for public outreach and education. The legislation requires signage on federally financed projects in order to improve public awareness of restoration efforts. In addition, the bill creates a public outreach and education program to encourage basin residents and visitors to implement defensible space to limit wildfire risk; to implement best management practices for water quality protection; and to take actions to prevent the introduction and proliferation of invasive species.

Allows for increased efficiency in the management of public land. Under this legislation, the Forest Service would have increased flexibility to exchange land with state and local entities allowing for more cost-efficient management of public land. Currently, the Forest Service manages more than 3,200 urban parcels spread throughout the Basin.
A summary of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act is available here.

“Out of the mosaic of public and private land holdings surrounding Lake Tahoe has grown an incredible partnership for restoration with funding support from all sectors ranging from the federal government to private property owners,” said Joanne S. Marchetta, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “Science is showing that our restoration programs are making progress protecting Tahoe’s air, water, and forests and this legislation provides an important commitment to continuing the work.”

The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2013 builds on efforts started with the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2000, a bill sponsored by Senators Feinstein, Reid, Boxer and then-Senator Richard Bryan (D-Nev.).

That bill, signed into law in November 2000, prompted significant investments in the health of Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Basin. Since 2000, contributions from the federal government total $544 million, California $647 million, Nevada $110 million, local governments $73 million and the private sector $312 million. An additional $300 million from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act fund was spent over 10 years on land acquisition, erosion control, forest management, fire suppression and improvements in water quality for Lake Tahoe.

Since the initial Lake Tahoe Restoration Act became law in 2000, improvements in the basin include:
Fuels reduction treatment of 54,444 acres; Wildlife habitat improvements on 15,850 acres of land, including 1,509 acres of Stream Environment Zones; Acquisition of 3,103 acres of sensitive land and improvements to 577 miles of roadways to prevent sediment from entering the lake; Addition of 2,579 linear feet of shoreline for public access; and Creation of 134 miles of bike and pedestrian routes.”


Lake Clarity Best in 10 Years

From the University of California, Davis on February 27, 2013


Lake Tahoe’s clarity improved in 2012 for the second year in a row, and its waters were the clearest in 10 years, according to University of California, Davis, scientists who study the lake.

Last year’s average annual clarity level was 75.3 feet, or a 6.4-foot improvement from 2011, according to data released today by the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The lake’s clarity is measured by the depth at which a 10″ white disk, called a Secchi disk, remains visible when lowered beneath the water’s surface. The measurements have been taken since 1968, when the Secchi disk could be seen down to an average of 102.4 feet.

The annual clarity level is the average of 22 individual readings taken throughout the year. The highest individual value recorded in 2012 was 107 feet, and the lowest was 57 feet.

Researchers provided measurements for last year’s winter (December-March) and summer (June-September) months. Winter clarity last year continued a long-term pattern of improvement, with the best clarity since 1996. The winter average of 88.3 feet in 2012 was well above the worst point seen in 1997 and a combined 12-foot improvement for the past two years.

At 64.4 feet, summer clarity improved 13 feet from the 2011 value, but researchers say the persistent trend is still one of declining summer clarity.

“The improvement we see in both the summer and winter clarity during 2012 is very encouraging,” said Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. “The lake will continue to be subjected to a range of disturbances, each of which has the potential to impact clarity. There is now growing belief that managing for clarity is possible.”

The rate of decline for average annual clarity in the past decade has been better than in recent decades. In 1997-1998, annual clarity reached an all-time average low of 65.1 feet. This year’s value is an improvement of more than 10 feet on that period, but still 22 feet short of the clarity restoration target of 97.4 feet set by federal and state regulators.

Urban stormwater runoff has long been a contributor to reduced clarity at the lake. Most of that runoff occurs during the winter and spring, when rain and snowmelt carry small, inorganic particles from the land, roads and other developed areas into the lake.

Yet, despite wet winters during 2011 and 2012, clarity improved.

Researchers say this could indicate that efforts led by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, other management agencies, local jurisdictions and private property owners to reduce urban stormwater runoff are having a positive impact. However, the researchers emphasize that they need more data on stormwater to make more definitive conclusions.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is leading a collaborative Environmental Improvement Program that supports achievement of environmental standards at the lake, with clarity being among the most important.

“Average annual clarity is again moving in a positive direction,” said Joanne S. Marchetta, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “With passage of the Regional Plan Update that focuses on the Environmental Improvement Program and water quality treatments in town centers where they are most needed, we expect to see this trend continue.”

“We are very excited about the results from 2012, especially within the context of the long-term record for annual and winter clarity,” said John Reuter, associate director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. “It is particularly encouraging to see clarity improve during wet years when the amount of fine sediments and nutrients going into the lake is high.”

Clarity readings since 2000

* 2012: 75.3 feet (22.9 meters)
* 2011: 68.9 feet (21 meters)
* 2010: 64.4 feet (19.6 meters)
* 2009: 68.1 feet (20.8 meters)
* 2008: 69.6 feet (21.2 meters)
* 2007: 70.1 feet (21.4 meters)
* 2006: 67.7 feet (20.6 meters)
* 2005: 72.4 feet (22.1 meters)
* 2004: 73.6 feet (22.4 meters)
* 2003: 71 feet (21.6 meters)
* 2002: 78 feet (23.8 meters)
* 2001: 73.6 meters (22.4 meters)
* 2000: 67.3 feet (20.5 meters)

For a complete list of Annual Secchi Depth Data since 1968, visit this page

Graphs showing the various clarity measurements for summer months, winter months, and the yearly averages, are available at the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center website

More information about environmental factors affecting Lake Tahoe will be included in the 2013 State of the Lake Report, expected this summer.

Funding for the clarity analyses comes from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

About UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center

The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center is a world leader in research, education and public outreach on lakes, their surrounding watersheds and airsheds, and the human systems that both depend on them and impact them. The center, with laboratories and offices in Incline Village, Nev., Tahoe City, Calif., and the UC Davis campus provides critical scientific information to help understand, restore and sustain the Lake Tahoe Basin and other systems worldwide.

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Kings Beach Elementary Santa Letters

Santa Letters

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