Emerald Bay Tea House - Lake Tahoe

About Lake Tahoe ... then & now

Beginning of Lake Tahoe: During the Ice Age, glaciers scoured the surrounding landscape to the shape of what 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.

The level of the lake has fluctuated drastically over time. The maximum lake level during the glacial era was close to 800 feet higher than its present level. Sedimentary outlines of the old shore remain as evidence. Cave Rock on the east shore of Lake Tahoe is the eroded remains of a volcano that once poured lava into the basin. The "cave" is wave cut, a relic of a much larger Lake Tahoe.

In the future, we can expect continued weathering, erosion and a subsequent lowering of the Sierra. Lake Tahoe will continue to fill in at the rate of one foot for every 3200 years, becoming a meadow in about 3,158,400 years.

Lake Facts: Lake Tahoe is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, with 72 miles of shoreline. The average depth of the lake is 945 feet and the deepest is 1,645 feet. The Lake's surface equals 193 square miles. The lake is so clear that objects can be seen up to depths of 70 feet.

The "natural rim" of the lake is 6223 feet above sea level. This is the lowest level at which water will continue to spill over the dam at Tahoe City and into the Truckee River, which is the only outlet of the lake. Lake Tahoe's water does not flow to the ocean. It flows east through Reno and into Pyramid Lake in Nevada.

Lake Tahoe is the third deepest lake in North America, tenth deepest in the world, and the highest deep lake in the U.S. The average level of the lake is 6,225 feet above sea level. The highest recorded level was over 6,229 feet. The lowest level ever recorded was 6221.01 feet on October 31, 1994.

There is enough water in Lake Tahoe to cover the entire state of California in 14 inches of water. This is enough water to supply everyone in the United States with 50 gallons of water per day for 5 years. Up to one-tenth inch of water, or 330 million gallons, can evaporate from the lake on a summer day. The amount of water that evaporates from the lake per year could supply a city the size of Los Angeles for 5 years.

Winter surface temperatures of the lake are between 40-50 degrees. Summer surface temperatures are between 65-70 degrees. Below 600-700 feet, the water remains at a constant temperature of 39 degrees.

The Settling of Lake Tahoe: Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Basin was discovered in 1844. However, the lake was so remote that it did not appear on California maps until 1859, when gold was discovered in Virginia City.

Because there were so few trees in the Virginia City area, timber was cut from around Lake Tahoe. The amount of timber cut was equivalent of what it would take to build 200,000 homes. If mining had not declined, Tahoe's forests could have been devastated.

When rich visitors began arriving at Lake Tahoe, they could purchase a 75-foot lakefront lot for $200-$300 each! These rich visitors began building beautiful summer homes. Roads were paved during the 1920's and 1930's making it accessible to all. During the winters of the 1950's, they began snow plowing these roads, allowing year-round access and residency.

Lake Tahoe Weather: In over 50 years of recorded weather history, 80 percent of these days have had sunshine. During the summer months, sun probability is about 93% for the entire 3 months. The harshest winter ever recorded was in 1906-1907, when Old Man Winter dumped a total of 884 inches of snowfall, almost 74 feet! The month of April has seen temperature spreads from 1 degree to 74 degrees.

Today: Today, Lake Tahoe is considered to be "America's All Year Playground", attracting visitors from all over the world. Lake Tahoe offers some of the best snow skiing, water skiing, cross-country skiing, boating, hiking, and recreational activities that you will find.

Doug Carroll
Coldwell Banker
McKinney & Associates
License #01089883
Cell: 530-318-3975

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