Forest Service News Release
Public Affairs Specialist: Lisa Herron, (530) 721-3898
Public urged to take extra care traveling in areas with high snowmelt
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif., April 6, 2023 – Record snow throughout the state is stacking up to be one of the largest snowpack years in California’s recorded history, which could also raise waterways on national forests to unsafe levels. As of April 1, the snow water content for the state is at 241 percent of average, according to a recent survey by the California Department of Water Resources. Snowpack in other areas of the state also hit record levels, such as the Southern Sierra with 3oo percent of its April 1 average and the Central Sierra at 237 percent of its April 1 average.
“California experienced 17 atmospheric rivers this winter that will create challenges in the upcoming weeks and months as the snow melts,” said Amy Masi, Fire Public Affairs Specialist for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region. “Units on our national forests have been assessing the damage and repairs over the past several weeks. Safety is our top concern for employees and for the public. So please check forest advisories and the National Weather Service before making plans.”
It may be spring in lower elevation valleys, but it’s still winter conditions in the mountains, and most forest roads, trails, and trailheads around Lake Tahoe are still buried and inaccessible. When planning a visit, be prepared for snow and ice with proper equipment and clothing, including sturdy, waterproof footwear, and delay backcountry visits, if possible.
Rising water levels in lakes, streams, and rivers can be extremely cold, fast, and can overwhelm anyone not prepared or heeding posted warnings. Do not venture near high, fast-running waterways to test the water or take selfies. Just one slip or unattended child or pet can result in a drowning. Remember, use extra caution when recreating in national forests this spring.
- Do not camp or park vehicles along fast-moving streams or rivers.
- Move to higher ground if heavy rain or rising water occurs.
- NEVER drive through flooded roadways.
Use these planning and weather resources for safe travels:
- California National Forests | Contact Directory — for advisories and alerts
- Caltrans QuickMap — Current information on road closures
- Weather Watches, Warnings and Advisories | National Weather Service
- Turn Around, Don’t Drown | Ready.gov