"It's Only A Matter Of When, Not If," Says Expert On Reno's Next Big Flood

Dec 17, 2015

The 1997 flood inundated downtown Reno with several feet of water.
Credit University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

This week, we've been bringing you local coverage on climate change in light of the international climate deal just reached in Paris. In Washoe County, some officials are concerned about the threat of flooding this winter.

To learn more about the danger and history of winter floods in Reno, our reporter Marcus Lavergne spoke to John Cobourn. He's a water resource specialist with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Cobourn says Reno is due for a large flooding event, like the one that took place back in 1997 that impacted 68,000 acres of land in Northern Nevada. 

In downtown Reno, the Truckee River rose above its banks, flooding several casinos.

“The casinos that were close to the river had as much as five feet of water in their first floors," Cobourn says. 

The Reno-Tahoe International Airport had floodwater in their jet engines and some roadways were severed.

“Long sections of Highway 395 were actually destroyed," Cobourn explains, "and it took months before that road could be re-opened.”

With a strong El Nino predicted for this winter, Cobourn suggests that Nevada residents prepare now