The start of the new year marked the 20th anniversary of the devastating 1997 New Year’s floods of western Nevada, which caused over 450 million dollars in damage and closed downtown businesses in Reno for weeks. This event was caused by a phenomena known as the “Pineapple Express” (more generally known as an “atmospheric river”) in which several warm storms tapped into moisture plumes sourced near the Hawaiian Islands. These storms produced heavy rainfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, saturating the soil and melting existing snow pack resulting in flows around 18,000 cfs in the Truckee River. Footage from that event is shared below from the KTVN Channel 2 News Facebook page:
You can also see the 1997 flood extents for the Carson River, Reno area, and Walker River in NBMG’s MyHazards-Nevada interactive web map:
Click the “Floods and Drought” group (wave icon) then checkmark on the “Historical Floods – NBMG” layer to turn on the 1997 flood layers. Several sublayers available for each flood area, which can be viewed by clicking the gray triangle next to the layer names to expand the layers.
Given that western Nevada has a flood watch in effect for this weekend, it’s worth noting that there are other useful layers available in MyHazards-Nevada, such as live feeds for weather watches and advisories, radar, and current flooding, in addition to layers for other geologic hazards including a live feed for recent earthquakes.
For those interested in learning more about the 1997 New Year’s floods, NBMG Special Publication 23 is a detailed report on that event:
Links to other flood- and weather-related publications are available on this landing page.