# Can this claim about the volume of water in Lake Tahoe possibly be true?

A California travel guide that has served me well on many trips to the Golden State claims that there is enough water in Lake Tahoe to cover the entire state in a blanket of water 14 inches deep.

I’ve looked at a map of California, eyeballing its surface area, and comparing it to the size of Lake Tahoe, and the statement seems utterly insane to me. Can it possibly be true?

Yes, that’s about right - Lake Tahoe’s volume is about 36 cubic miles.

This link says 1645 feet deep, 2nd deepest in US, 39 trillion gallons, enough to cover CA with 14 1/2 inches.

http://www.tahoefacts.com/html/tahoe_faqs.html

Wiki gives the volume of Lake Tahoeas 122,160,280 acre·ft

The area of California is 104,765,440 acres, so Tahoe can cover it to a depth of a bit over a foot, which fits with the statement.

With an average depth of 1,000 ft, Tahoe is extremely deep, which gives it such an enormous volume.

Has anyone been to the bottom?

Well, there’s Fredo Corleone.

Just once, back in the 60’s…

Why yes, it’s very, very nice.

Perhaps when it’s filled, it can. However, I have also seen the lake under the effects of a serious drought.

How low has the water line ever gotten?

1992 But I don’t know what that means in practical terms.

My Tahoe trivia fact, that I never fail to bore my fellow skiers with, is that when you are on the Nevada side of Tahoe, with the lake on your left and Carson Valley way down below you on your right, the bottom of the lake is actually lower than the Carson Valley floor.

Given that fact you can imagine how the fact in the OP could be true.

If we go with those figures, the lake was about three feet lower than the “natural rim” in November 1992. Doing the math, this means that the volume of the low-water Lake Tahoe, spread out over California, would be about one millimeter shallower than the “natural volume” of Lake Tahoe spread out the same way.

Yes, a decrease of 3 feet is a mere 0.3% of the average depth of 1000 feet. It won’t make a significant difference.

Yes, big, but to get a true sense of scale consider Lake Baikal. To fill it up you would have to empty Lake Tahoe into it 160 times.

Tipped into the oceans, the water level would increase by about 6 cm.

If my rough maths are correct, the water in Baikal could make you a 1.4m deep pool the size of Russia. I’d recommend a fairly substantial swim-up bar well stocked with vodka.

I have a horrible suspicion I’ve mis-placed some decimal points there but in any case.
Tahoe is huge…Baikal is immense.

Yeah, but Tahoe is far, far prettier. So there!

There is a lot more water hidden in the underground river system that links Tahoe to Pyramid Lake, 50 miles away. Tessie would need to alternate between the lakes to stay warm. Even Jaques Cousteau said “The world isn’t ready for what is down there."

Yeah, one has to remember that pesky 3rd dimension. I remember reading the increase in ocean depth if all the ice on Antarctica melted, and didn’t believe it since it’s such a small portion of the area of the globe. So, I did the math and showed that the ice would have to be over a MILE thick to do that … oops, it is.

Hmm, really?

Baikal

Tahoe

They both look pretty impressive to me.

When the Great Lakes are silted up to big marshes in a few hundred thousand years, Baikal will still be a big, deep lake.