Snowpack Melts, Mason Valley Prepares For Flooding

The Walker River at Mason, Nevada
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MASON VALLEY, NV - With warming temperatures beginning to work on a huge snowpack, western Nevada rivers are running high and the cautious are preparing for potential flooding.

As it flows by the small Lyon County community of Mason the Walker River is still well within its banks, but memories of the 1997 flood when water reached a number of homes in this valley haven't faded, so many here are watching the river.

Some are doing more.

A few blocks away at the Mason Town Hall, Matt Brennan and friends are filling sand bags.

In 1997 Brannan and his National Guard unit were deployed elsewhere as the water crept toward his home.
He’s got a guard drill this weekend.

“It’s just a precaution,” he says, pitching another shovelful in a bag. “I just want to be sure my family and others are safe if I’m gone this weekend.”

There is no emergency at this point, not even a promise of one, but county officials are watching things closely.

"We do know that the river dropped significantly over the weekend,” says Lyon County Manager Jeff Page.

Page was once the county’s Emergency Management Director. The recent storms have thrust him back in to that role.

“As long as the weather stays cold at nighttime and we don’t have a rapid heat wave, we should to do OK making it through with just some localized flooding.”

Page and others are keeping an especially close watch on potential trouble spots like the low lying areas in Mason and structures like the Snyder Lane Bridge.

There's still plenty of room underneath the bridge, but its pilings could catch debris turning it into a dam.

The best case scenario is a long, slow melt in the mountains, a good water year for the farms that rely on the Walker.

A worse case: a spring heat spell that accelerates the melt or worst of all, a warm storm, rain high up on that snow pack.

In the meantime, just in case, upstream they're releasing water, making room in reservoirs at Topaz and Bridgeport.

Downstream they can only keep watch and prepare, and hope it won't be needed.

For more up to date information on stream flows and flood preparations, click on Hot Topics