Atmospheric River event drops record rain for Reno

Mount Rose 18.0'' of Snow from 10/14/16-10/17/16

The Truckee River isn't the only important component of our water supply for Northern Nevada, Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) play a vital role.

When an Atmospheric Rivers set ups, we can receive a good fraction of our yearly water totals. On average, about 30-50% of annual precipitation for the west coast occurs in just a few AR events.
And that is exactly what happened over the past 3 days.

Not only did Reno smash a rain record, but some Sierra locations received close to 12 inches of rain.

What exactly is an Atmospheric River (AR)? ARs are the water-vapor rich portion of a storm, they are relatively narrow and can stretch hundreds of miles, as well as sometimes contain winds that exceed hurricane strength. A strong AR can transport up to 15 times the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Now this AR wasn't that strong, but it did bring immense moisture to our region. The Sierra saw rain from Friday morning all the way into Monday morning, and the valley saw nearly 12 hours of straight rainfall. Sometime we haven't seen in a very long time.

Wind reports ranged from 65 miles per hour to nearly 100 miles per hour.

Here are some of the top wind reports:

  • Squaw Valley 129 mph
  • Incline Village 87 mph
  • Galena 70 mph
  • Mount Rose Ski 62 mph
  • Silver Springs 61 mph
  • NWS Reno 58 mph

To put that in perspective, here is the current rating system (Saffir–Simpson scale) for Hurricanes:

  • Category 1: 74-95 mph
  • Category 2: 96-110 mph
  • Category 3: 111–129 mph
  • Category 4: 130–156 mph
  • Category 5: ?157 mph

Storm Reports from The National Weather Service Reno indicate that Category 3 winds hit some Sierra Ridge tops, while valley locations saw the equivalent of a Category 1 Hurricane.

And for rain, well that's a whole other beast!

3 Day Storm Totals for the Valley:

  • Verdi 4.90''
  • Pleasant Valley 3.98''
  • Galena 3.58''
  • West Reno 2.85''
  • Carson City 2.56''
  • Susanville 2.14''
  • spanish Springs 1.54''
  • Pyramid Lake 1.45''
  • Fernley 1.05''
  • Reno Airport 1.03''

Now back to the other river, the Truckee River, well it doubled in height and is flowing at almost 20 times it's Friday speed. The more impressive note, Lake Tahoe has reported 4.4 inches of rise. Lake Tahoe was sitting at 6222.40' on Friday, 10/14/16 and by Monday, 10/17/16 it is sitting at 6222.77'.

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