Communities along the Truckee, Carson and Walker Rivers can breathe a sigh of relief for now, as the National Weather Service has downgraded some of its flooding projections from last week. Reno Public Radio's Noah Glick reports.
Warmer temperatures were expected to begin melting some of the highest elevation snowpack last weekend, leading to high river flows during the week. But that hasn't been happening as quickly as estimated. Tim Bardsley is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service. He says while this is good for the city of Yerington, which was expected to receive minor to moderate flooding, the Mason Valley isn't out of the woods yet. "On the Walker system especially, there's a lot of high-elevation terrain, and there's still a lot of snow left in that system," Bardsley says. "So it's great news that the forecast for this shorter term, the next week or so, has ramped back. But we do have the potential for higher flows still to come." Bardsley says new gauges have been installed to help the weather service receive more accurate and detailed information, which leads to better forecasts. Lyon County Manager Jeff Page says officials already have flood preparations in place and facilities lined up in case evacuations are needed. For now, he says there are no major risks to residents, but will monitor conditions as they change. "Unlike wildfire or flash flooding, the nice thing about river flooding is that it takes a while for it to get from the mountains down to us," Page says. "So we have anywhere from 24 to 36 hours to get people safely out of their homes and to wherever they're going to go, whether it be to somebody else's home or to a shelter." Both Bardsley and Page urge residents to keep flood mitigation measures in place over the next several weeks. Bardsley warns that river flows are fast, cold and highest at night. So any campers setting up near creeks or streams should exercise extreme caution.