Chad Blanchard is not a man prone to colorful language.
Blanchard is the federal water master in Reno who oversees sharing of the Truckee River between towns, tribes, farms and wildlife.
The job requires a negotiator’s ear for word choice.
But when it comes to describing the amount of water that’s flowed into Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River basin in recent days even Blanchard slips into superlatives.
“We have had a supreme year, a wonderful year so far before this,” Blanchard said Tuesday morning. “But including this event it has been great.”
Here are some of the numbers that have Blanchard, and others who watch water for a living, so impressed.
Since Oct. 13, Lake Tahoe’s lowest point for the year, about 72 billion gallons flowed into the lake. Of that, more than 39 billion has come since Jan. 1.
That equates to about 222,000 acre-feet of water. An acre-foot is enough to serve an entire household for a year.
The impressive inflows have pushed the lake level up nearly 1.9 feet in the nearly three months since Oct. 15. It typically takes an entire year for the lake to rise that much.
“It is an extreme amount of water we have seen,” Blanchard said.
The big numbers don’t stop at the shore of Lake Tahoe.
The snowpack in the Truckee River basin is up to 163 percent of normal as of Tuesday. At the SNOTEL site at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe it’s at 204 percent of normal, the sixth highest level it’s been at since 1980, according to Jeff Anderson, hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Precipitation this water year, a period that starts Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, is at 206 percent of normal in the Truckee River basin.
The only years with a better start were 1997 and 1982, according to Anderson.
And all this water doesn’t include snow that’s currently dumping on the region.
The National Weather Service in Reno reported that in the 24 hours ending late Tuesday morning 38 inches of snow fell at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, 36 inches fell at Northstar on the north side of the lake and 23 inches at Kirkwood on the south side of the lake.
There are more storms on the way during the coming two weeks. How much moisture they deliver and the number and intensity of storms that follow will determine whether the region ends the winter with small or modest drought relief or whether Blanchard will keep using superlatives.