TAHOE CITY (AP) — A lingering drought that has made for a dismal skiing season in the Sierra Nevada is also going to take a toll on boaters at Lake Tahoe this summer.
Several of the busiest boat-launching ramps at the azure mountain lake are expected to remain closed the entire season due to low water levels, including one of the most popular on Tahoe’s northeast shore at Sand Harbor just south of Incline Village.
The summer boating season typically opens May 1. But with Sierra snowpack at its lowest level in a century after four consecutive mild winters, that won’t happen this year.
“There is not enough water to launch at this point, and I see nothing but the lake going down,” said Jay Howard, supervisor of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park.
“Until we get something to get the lake to come up, (the ramp) will be closed until further notice,” he told the Tahoe Daily Tribune on Tuesday.
Low-water years have forced the state parks to close the launches early before, but Howard said this is the first time since the early 1990s that Sand Harbor will miss the entire boating season.
The Lake Tahoe Basin’s snowpack ended the traditional season on April 1 with only 3 percent of normal for the date. Lake Tahoe has been below its natural rim since October, cutting off all flow into the Truckee River, and that isn’t expected to change before the end of the year.
The other Lake Tahoe boat launch operated by Nevada State Parks at Cave Rock on the east shore should be open throughout the summer boating season, although it will be limited from two lanes to one at some point, Howard said.
Other boat ramps expected to remain closed all year include Coon Street on the north shore at Kings Beach, California and on the south shore at El Dorado Beach and Tahoe Vista, California.
El Dorado Beach’s launch was only open for about a month before closing last year, South Lake Tahoe Public Information Officer Tracy Franklin said.
“We don’t anticipate, even if there is a windfall of snow, it would be high enough to open,” she said. “The water is not even anywhere close to the ramp.”
Two west shore ramps plan to be open, including Obexer’s Boat Company and the recently refurbished Lake Forest ramp at Tahoe City, California, although it’s possible the latter could be closed at some point this summer.