ARkStorm@Tahoe: Stakeholder perspectives on vulnerabilities and preparedness for an extreme storm event in the greater Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Carson City region

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Abstract

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are strongly linked to extreme winter precipitation events in the Western U.S., accounting for 80 percent of extreme floods in the Sierra Nevada and surrounding lowlands. In 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey developed the ARkStorm extreme storm scenario for California to quantify risks from extreme winter storms and to allow stakeholders to better explore and mitigate potential impacts. To explore impacts on natural resources and communities in montane and adjacent environments, we downscaled the scenario to the greater Lake Tahoe, Reno and Carson City region of northern Nevada and California. This ArkStorm@Tahoe scenario was presented at six stakeholder meetings, each with a different geographic and subject matter focus. Discussions were facilitated by the ARkStorm@Tahoe team to identify social and ecological vulnerabilities to extreme winter storms, science and information needs, and proactive measures that might minimize impacts from this type of event. Information collected in these meetings was used to develop a tabletop emergency response exercise and set of recommendations for increasing resilience to extreme winter storm events in both Tahoe and the downstream communities of Northern Nevada.

Over 300 individuals participated in ARkStorm@Tahoe stakeholder meetings and the emergency response exercise, including representatives from emergency response, natural resource and ecosystem management, health and human services, public utilities, and businesses. Interruption of transportation, communications, and lack of power and backup fuel supplies were identified as the most likely and primary points of failure across multiple sectors and geographies, as these interruptions have cascading effects on natural and human systems by impeding emergency response efforts. Other key issues that arose in discussions included contamination risks to water supplies and aquatic ecosystems, especially in the Tahoe Basin and Pyramid Lake, interagency coordination, credentialing, flood management, and coordination of health and human services during such an event. Mitigation options were identified for each of the key issues. Several science needs were identified, particularly the need for improved flood inundation maps. Finally, key lessons learned were identified and may help to increase preparedness, response and recovery from extreme storms in the future.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title ARkStorm@Tahoe: Stakeholder perspectives on vulnerabilities and preparedness for an extreme storm event in the greater Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Carson City region
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Western Branch
Description 43 p.