Lake Tahoe has sunk to a four-year low as California struggles with drought and wildfires.
The lake is expected to fall below the basin’s natural rim in the next few days as increased evaporation rates caused by high winds continue causing water levels to plummet, The Guardian reported. That will leave Truckee River without its source of water.
Lake Tahoe has dropped three feet between June 2020 and June 2021. Researchers say the lower water levels are also from less snowpack around the Sierra mountains, Fox KTVU reported.
California has been suffering this summer through some of the worst wildfires and droughts in the state’s recent history.
South Lake Tahoe was evacuated in September due to a threat from a wildfire that burned hundreds of thousands of acres.
The state is also experiencing its driest summer since 1895, contributing to the difficulty fighting wildfires.
This is the third driest year on record since 1910 for Lake Tahoe, according to officials, The Guardian reported.
“It’s a sign of change at the lake,” Geoffrey Schladow, the director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, told the newspaper. “Change is very difficult to manage … When we start seeing things we’ve never experienced before at a greater frequency, it’s challenging.”
“To me the big danger is next summer,” he added.