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Lake Tahoe Facts and Info
A lake formed near the southern and lowest part of the basin, fed by snow, rain, and draining creeks and rivers. The lake level increased in depth until it found an outlet, then near the present town of Truckee. Several active volcanoes poured lava into the basin, eventually damming the outlet. The waters rose again, several hundred feet higher than the present level. Finally, a new outlet was cut, just east of volcano, Mt. Pluto and Mt. Watson, the present location of Northstar Ski Area and Fiberboard lumber and timber company. Cave Rock on the east shore of Lake Tahoe is the eroded remains of another volcano that once poured lava into the basin. Its cave" is wave cut, a relic of the ancestral and much bigger Lake Tahoe.
During the Ice Age, glaciers scoured the surrounding landscape to the shape we see today. These rivers of ice followed pre-existing V-shaped stream canyons, carving them as they moved downward to smooth U-shaped valleys. Emerald Bay, Cascade Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake and the Echo Lakes now fill some of these U-shaped valleys. Moraines, glacial debris left behind, blocked the outlet again, changing it to the present Truckee River outlet at Tahoe City.
* Interesting Facts about Lake Tahoe *
How large is Lake Tahoe?
The South Upper River is the largest tributary flowing into the lake.
How cold is the water?
The water temperature near the surface generally cools to 40 F to 50 F (4-1/2 C to 10 C during February and March, and warms to 65 F to 70 F (18 C to 21 C) August and September. Below 600-700 foot depths, the water temperature remains a constant 39 F (40 C).
How much water is in Lake Tahoe
The water in Lake Tahoe could cover a flat area the size of California by 14 inches. This is also enough to supply everyone in the United States with 50 gallons of water per day for 5 years. And believe it or not, the amount of water that evaporates from the surface of Lake Tahoe every year could supply a city the size of Los Angeles for 5 years.
Why is the Lake so clear?
One reason the lake is so clear is that 40% of the precipitation falling into the Lake Tahoe Basin, lands directly on the lake. The remaining precipitation drains through the decomposed granitic soils found in marshes and meadows, creating a good filtering system. These soils are relatively sterile, therefore water filtered through them entering the lake relatively pure. Another contributing factor is the exportation of all sewage from the Lake Tahoe Basin. Although Lake Tahoe is going through a natural aging process (succession), filling up with sediments like any other lake.