Not Much Flooding in Tahoe

The rain and wind we’ve had in the last few days has been impressive – more than I’ve seen since the New Year’s flood of 1996. The biggest difference between this flood and the highly destructive one in ’96 was that back then there was a huge snow base which came rushing down with the rainfall essentially multiplying the amount of water in motion. Although this storm has surely caused its share of problems it has been kinder than was expected. Today the Truckee emergency shelter closed early for lack of need and thus far the Truckee River’s banks haven’t been breached between Tahoe City and Truckee. I went out this morning and stopped by a bunch of client’s houses; all were high and dry. Around town I found little in the way of mayhem. Here are some photos:

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Surf Tahoe Dec. 1

Yes, the benefits of working here in Tahoe include sneaking out of the office to get the heart pumping. Today’s adventure was a surf session in Tahoe Vista. Waves were small but the crew consisted of two of my oldest Tahoe surf friends and a newbie from Santa Cruz. The SC guy was obviously the best surfer of us all but he lacked the gear which we seasoned mutants have, namely gloves and hoodies. Suffice it to say that he was the first out of the water – yet he probably had the most rides!

Set Waves on Lake Tahoe

Set Waves on Lake Tahoe

Surf Tahoe

Surfing Tahoe Vista

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Lake Tahoe Clarity Improving

This is an announcement from the TRPA and also UC Davis, the most significant organization for measuring Lake Tahoe’s famous clarity.



Lake Tahoe, CA/NV – Lake Tahoe clarity improved in 2011, but overall has remained nearly stable since 2000, according to UC Davis scientists who study the lake.

Data released today by the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency reported the average annual clarity level for 2011 at 68.9 feet, a 4.5-foot improvement over 2010, when average clarity levels were the second-worst on record.

Winter clarity last year continued a decade-long pattern of improvement, while summer clarity continued to decline at the same rate that it has since the late 1960s, when monitoring began.

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. From 2001-2011 the average clarity was 70.6 feet.

Yet this year’s value is still more than two dozen feet away from the clarity restoration target of 97.4 feet set by federal and state regulators.

Geoffrey Schladow, Director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, said it is important to remember that long-term trends are a better indication of Lake Tahoe clarity than year-to-year comparisons.

“The factors that contribute to lake clarity are complex, and are not necessarily linked to factors occurring in the current year,” said Schladow. “For example, the 2011 clarity improvement followed a winter that was one of the wettest in recent years, something that is usually associated with clarity declines. Understanding what controls the long-term trends is at the heart of what we are attempting to do.”

Researchers provided measurements for both winter (Dec.–Mar.) and summer (Jun.–Sept.) months. The winter average of 84.9 feet in 2011 was well above the worst point seen in 1997 and a 12-foot improvement over 2010.

Urban stormwater runoff has long been one 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 into the lake.

Yet despite a wet winter during 2011, clarity improved. Researchers say this could indicate that efforts led by TRPA, other management agencies, local jurisdictions and private property owners to reduce

urban stormwater runoff are having an impact. However, they emphasize that they need more data on stormwater to make definitive conclusions.

Summer clarity levels continued to show a decline. The 2011 value of 51.5 feet was the second worst on record, which the UC Davis data suggest may be due to the large and late spring snowmelt, which carried enormous amounts of fine sediment and nutrients from the watersheds surrounding the lake.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is leading a collaborative Environmental Improvement Program that sets thresholds for various environmental indicators at the lake, with clarity being among the most important.

“We’re encouraged that lake clarity is improving and seems to be responding to the substantial restoration investments we’ve collectively made through the Environmental Improvement Program,” said Joanne S. Marchetta, Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

John Reuter, Associate Director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, said environmental improvement efforts in the Lake Tahoe Basin related to water quality, forest health and watershed condition have been significant.

However, Reuter noted that “ecosystem restoration is seen over a time scale of decades and is difficult under the best of conditions. Sustaining the pollutant reduction to any lake that has an urban population and infrastructure like Lake Tahoe is challenging, especially in a faltering economy. In my opinion, the federal, state and public partners at Lake Tahoe are facing this restoration challenge with considerable insight, coordination and determination. ”

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 102.4 feet.

Clarity Readings Since 2000

• 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
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 at
More information about environmental factors affecting Lake Tahoe will be included in the 2012 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.
Media contacts:
• Geoffrey Schladow, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center
(; 530-902-2272)
• John Reuter, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (; 530-
304- 1473)
• Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service (, 530-752-9195)
• Julie Regan, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (; 775-589-5237)
• Kristi Boosman, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (; 775-589-5230)

Scenic Tahoe Video Click Lower Right Corner to Enlarge

To expand the video click the lower right corner. If you like live music, turn up the volume…!

BIG Tahoe Windstorm Today

How I got Inspired by a Client

I met with a new client today and it made the simple words of my 32-year broker ring in my head: “I love real estate because you meet the most interesting people.” Her thought is especially true here at Tahoe because you don’t get pigeonholed into a certain demographic or business vertical that you ‘work’ as a client base. You get all the walks of life who want to live or vacation in Tahoe.

Today’s client is considerably young and he’s looking to relocate to Tahoe. He went to a competitive boarding school and university Back East then went on to labor in NYC. During this time he saw a discrepancy in his field where locating to a different country and starting fresh could conceivably make for huge business growth in a short period of time. He went for it – alone. As the business grew he faced all the usual challenges but one of the surprising things was that none of the old colleagues from the States would join him. All of them wanted to stay in the familiar network and not take the big risk. Long story short, within 5 years his bet paid off and the company was bought by a competitor.

While his business story is interesting and impressive, his outlook on life is even more so. Within 3 minutes of sitting down together he was telling me about what he thinks of as the internal battle between the heart and the brain. You’ve heard or thought something like this before but it was so interesting to me that he chose to focus on this so soon after starting our meeting – it told me a lot about his priorities.

It went something like this: “The brain says, ‘we’re going to keep our head down and work all the time because I want [substitute material possession here].’ But the heart mutters, ‘wait, what about those things we thought were pretty cool and interesting that we were going to try and do.’ Brain: ‘we’ll get to those…later. 6 months. When this other stuff is done we’ll get to that.’ Well once the 6 months comes and goes, then another half a year does the same, the heart voice starts to disappear. The material possessions start to pile up, bank accounts increase but is that the goal? Shouldn’t the heartsong be the focus and you can let the money come later?”

It was a great meeting and of course made me reflect on myself. I got into real estate after living in Tahoe for a number of years. I had bought a couple houses here, thought I might enjoy real estate…and was ready to see if I could start making some money. Well almost 10 years later, I realize that thankfully I may have gotten in for some of the right reasons – but I’m staying in for the right reasons. That is, I know that by doing such a good job on every deal that I am helping people. I get to use my writing and photography (and now with YouTube am learning video) skills while developing great marketing plans for my clients and myself. And last, I enjoy doing all of this.

Thanks for making it to the end of this post – honestly I’m surprised I wrote it. But I guess when you’re moved, you’re moved!

Tahoe Sierra Estates / Olympic Snowy Pics

Some nice shots from a beautiful morning in the neighborhood…

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Snowy Dollar Point Pier Pics

The snow stopped and the sun came out this morning. Such a nice spot to be…

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McKinney Shores POA Pics

Some nice shots from a beautiful morning at the McKinney Shores POA beach.

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A fun, scenic video of Tahoe

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From my YouTube Channel: Alex West’s fantastic Lake Tahoe real estate site with custom property searches and unique blogs about Tahoe property including Lake Tahoe lakefronts (links to active listings, maps with all lakefronts sales since 2005, blogs, deals, lakefront foreclosures and short sales), Tahoe luxury property, West shore real estate, real estate north lake, Squaw Valley realty, Alpine Meadows real estate, and Truckee Tahoe homes. Come take a dip in The Big Blue Lake…