Get ready in case of heavy rain or flood events this winter

by Ashley Andrews, communications specialist


This time of year is my favorite; I love how autumn-colored leaves drift gently down from above. For me, it is easy to get lost in the beauty of the seasons changing around us, summer to fall and fall to winter.

It is important to keep my senses about me, though, because as fall leaves fade and winter weather arrives, we may flood.

Winter river floods like last year’s could happen

this year too if we find ourselves again surrounded with snow-capped mountains as warm, wet storms move in from the Pacific. This weather pattern is called an atmospheric river or pineapple express, and it is trouble for flat, low-lying properties along the Carson, Truckee and Walker Rivers.

It has caused more than 15 large floods in the last 150 years. This is because heavy high-elevation rain brought by atmospheric rivers can melt our snowpack, raising rivers draining the mountains to flood stage.

While we can experience flash floods late spring through early fall, our biggest floods happen in winter. So, every fall during Flood Awareness Week, Nov. 12 – 17 this year, flood professionals offer free community events statewide to help us get ready.

On Nov. 12, stop by Meadowood Mall in Reno, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., to learn from and enjoy informational booths and flood and enviroscape models, and play the Flood Fighter video game.

These activities are provided by Nevada Division of Water Resources, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Truckee River Flood Management Authority, National Weather Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Truckee Lake St.; Truckee upstream Arlington; Truckee Wingfield Park – “Do not wait until flooding is imminent; prepare now in case of winter river floods." Photos by Scott McGuire, Nevada Flood Awareness Committee
Truckee Lake St.; Truckee upstream Arlington; Truckee Wingfield Park – “Do not wait until flooding is imminent; prepare now in case of winter river floods.” Photos by Scott McGuire, Nevada Flood Awareness Committee

From 3 – 6 p.m., Nov. 14 at the Douglas County Community Center in Gardnerville, Nevada Division of Water Resources’ flood model and Nevada Division of Environmental Protection’s enviroscape model will both be in action again, joined this time by Carson Water Subconservancy District’s groundwater model. The Flood Fighter video game demo booth by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be open for business once more as well.

Cooperative Extension, Douglas County and National Weather Service will be on site too with educational booths.

On Nov. 15, from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. at Scolari’s in Yerington, Nevada Division of Water Resources will have educational information available and their flood model too. On Nov. 17, from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., that same flood model will be on hand at the Walmart in Elko, plus a National Weather Service information booth.

Winter doesn’t always bring heavy rain or flood events, but get ready anyway. Attend these Nevada Flood Awareness Week activities to discover if your home is at risk for flooding, how to prepare for floods and how to purchase flood insurance. And, work on your landscape to prevent stormwater runoff damage.

Help soils absorb moisture by using landscape materials water can pass through, like wood decking, bricks or stones, instead of concrete. Grade slopes to direct water to planted areas, and add compost to those areas since compost helps soil hold water. And, watch fire-affected landscapes for landslides during heavy rain or flood events.


To learn more about preparing for heavy rain or flood events, visit and


Ashley Andrews is a communications specialist with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Garden or landscape questions? Contact 775-336-0265 or, or visit Flood questions? Visit