Washoe Lake State Park SNU Rally (BRL)
Meteorology, Astronomy, and other aspects of mother nature
The Sierra Nevada Mountain range present a barrier to Pacific storms. The Great Basin area only gets water from storms that can go over or around the Mountains to the south. The result is about five to ten inches of water per year. It is mostly high desert. The water from those storms will not see the ocean again because the rivers in this 'Great Basin' flow into salt lakes and sinks like the Truckee River that runs from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake or the Humbolt River that runs from northeast Nevada to the Humbolt sink near Lovelock. The area was mostly under a large inland lake called Lake Lahontan that was at its peak about 12,000 years ago covering 45,000 square miles up to 700 feet deep. Walker Lake and Pyramid Lake are relicts of this lake.
Temperatures tend to be mild with occasional extremes due to the elevation.
Northwest Nevada and the East Slope of the Sierra Mountains is an area where you can see for miles and the horizon is sharp and clear. The altitude can impact engine performance (and even your performance!) and require adjustments for baking cakes in the oven. It is a dry environment that chaps the skin and lets the sun burn anything it sees. Daily temperature swings are usually near forty degrees which means you need to be prepared for both hot and cold on a daily basis. Unusually hot days in summer hit 100 with nights in the sixties. Unusually cold days in the winter get down to the teens at night and forties in the day. It's a dusty, dirty, dry, warm, cold, beautiful place with lots of lakes, forests, rocks, mountains, and streams.
The mountains and valleys emphasize winds which can be hazardous to RV travel. U.S. 395 is notorious for its wind warning signs.
Winter storms can create periods lasting from only a few hours to a week or so of hazardous driving conditions. We have had it snow several times at a Memorial Day camp out at Pyramid Lake but within twelve hours the sky had cleared and we had a beautiful beach all to ourselves. The roads of the Sierras will often have chain or snow tire restrictions for a few hours when storms arrive. Tourists for an evening in Reno have found themselves stranded with an unexpected overnight because they could not drive back over Donner Pass on I80. If you plan to travel in this area in the winter, be sure to carry tire chains and something to keep you warm if you get snowed into your vehicle overnight.
Visitors to our area need to be aware of the possibility of altitude illness, especially if they visit the mountainous areas and plan to do some physically demanding activities.
Every year we lose a few people who wander from the beaten path and do not take proper precautions. Whether you are taking a day hike in the Sierra Mountains, looking for a novel snow experience, or following a road that turns to nothing, be prepared.
Many of our favorite camping spots are not paved. At Pyramid Lake and Lake Lahontan State Park it is easy to get stuck in the sand. The Black Rock Desert can be like a great big flat paved surface or, if it gets a bit wet, it can be one very large sand pit.
Take care, know where you are going, let someone at home know where you are going and when you plan to get back. Keep a shovel and a gallon or two of water in your rig. Be prepared and don't try to walk out of a tough situation. Wait for help.
Do not depend upon cell phones or radios to get help. You cannot depend upon service away from the cities and towns and the terrain can make wireless communication iffy. Depend upon someone knowing where you are going and when you plan to get back who can notify authorities if you show up missing.
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