The rain came shortly after dark, replacing the snow showers from two-days before. Now the entire Truckee Meadows region braced for major flooding.
It wasn’t until after 2 pm that I ventured out. I had been at home monitoring the ditch in our backyard, and one I felt it wasn’t going to wash over I felt it was okay to leave for a few hours.
Immediately, I found myself halted. Flooding had consumed the intersection of Pyramid Highway and Eagle Canyon Drive, the roadways I generally use to exit our neighborhood.
The Nevada Department of Transportation trucks were halting traffic from turning right from Eagle Canyon onto Pyramid because of a blockage in one of the overflow pipes that were recently installed. I had to turn back and use Richard Springs Blvd. to David James Blvd. to get to Pyramid.
Once in town I stopped at Paradise Park. Many of the old timers who recall when there wasn’t a park at the corner of Oddie Blvd and El Rancho Drive say that the area was always a flood plain and they one could tell how back an event would be by how much water collected in the basin.
Half of the park was underwater – I’d say that’s fairly bad.
My next stop was in the parking lot of the former Siena Hotel-Casino between Lake and Center Streets in Reno. Yes, there are signs posted that no one is to park in the lot, but I took a chance anyway.
The Truckee River was a creamy brown and swift moving. It had come up to within a couple of feet of the older bridges, like the Center Street Bridge and the Sierra Street Bridge to the west.
Reno’s newest bridge, built a couple of years ago, replacing the one that had been there since 1905, was holding its own. The river had plenty of clearance beneath, exactly as designed.
Across the river from the Siena is a reserved looking building belonging to the AT&T Telephone Company; their doors barricaded with ten layers of sandbags.
Walking across the street into the plaza, where the iron-worked “Believe” sculpture is on display I saw people in rain gear, umbrellas and cell phones scurrying about. Each one, like me, hoping to memorialize this year’s event in some personal way.
Over head the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office’s RAVEN helicopter buzzed; no doubt looking for any possible trouble in the areas west of downtown as their streets began to fill with water.
In Southern California they’re called ‘Lookie-loo’s.” Here in Nevada, we refer to them as the curious and they lined up along the new Virginia Street Bridge to get a good view of the raging Truckee.
A few more steps west and I found myself along the Plaza on the River. Here there were even more people as well as the camera crews to the three major TV news stations in the area.
Standing there for about 15 minutes, I watched as the water climbed the steps leading to the plaza. Since it was growing dark by then, and with the water creeping it way up each step, I decided it was time to vacate the area before being directed to by law enforcement or fire-fighters.
Thankful to find my wet and chilled self seated in my truck, I decided to head east on Mill Street to see how far I could get before having to turn around. As I learned I could get all the way to McCarran Blvd., where Mill ends, but I had to turn around because of major flooding in the industrial section of Sparks.
Turning north on Rock Blvd, I stopped in the overpass and took a couple more pictures. One of the river itself, the other, a shot of the foot path that is usually 10 to 11 feet above the river bank, but which was now covered in muddy, brown water.
With the sun quickly ducking below the Sierra, I continued north on Rock and back into Spanish Springs and home. While there was much flooding to be seen at the time as the snow continues to melt and the rains to fall.
After living here for 30-plus years, I’ve learned that the Truckee River will jump its banks every 10 years no matter what sort of flood mitigation man completes; it’s simply a matter of nature.