Fall is my favorite time of year; 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 the ones we've experienced before 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, flood professionals offer free community events statewide to help us get ready.

Winter doesn’t always bring heavy rain or flood events, but get ready anyway. Attend 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

Andrews, A. 2017, Get ready in case of heavy rain or flood events this winter, Reno Gazette-Journal

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Also of Interest:

Stream Morphologic Impact of Recovery from Major Flooding in North-Central Nevada
Major floods caused channel changes ranging from complete cross sectional change to small fluctuation in pool area. We used cross-section data on 30 heavily grazed rangeland streams in North Central Nevada to assess changes over a climatically variable 14-year period...
Myers, T. J. and S. Swanson. 1996, Physical Geography, 17(5):431-445.
Don’t Put Your Home and Family at Risk from Floods!
If you own or are considering buying property near the bank of a river or stream, beware of building a home there! If the property is mapped as “Zone A” Regulatory Floodplain, that means flooding is a very real possibility — at least 1 percent chance in any year. Learn more about...
Cobourn, J., Lewis, S., and Swanson, S. 2011, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-11-70
Low Impact Development in Northern Nevada: Bioretention
This fact sheet contains information on ways to bioretention as a sustainable strategy to handle stormwater. Learn more about the benefits of bioretention, how the features work, where bioretention can be used, how to maintain the features, and many more.
Donaldson, S. 2009, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-09-25
River Corridor Protection: Carson River Coalition’s Main Message
This fact sheet contains protection plain for the Caron River by looking at flood plains, projects, and the history of the river.
Lewis, S. and Cobourn, J. 2004, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-04-71