A fairly common misconception about Shasta Lake is that the water temperature is chilly, similar to most lakes throughout California. ”It’s cold there like Tahoe, right?” we hear pretty often. Most people are shocked when we tell them that the water temperature on the lake can get into the high seventies and even the eighties during the summer months. But why? This article is dedicate to the discovery of why Shasta Lake water temperature is above normal for California Lakes and what makes it such a desirable vacation destination.
First, the lake isn’t filled primarily with snowmelt, like many lakes are throughout the western United States, but its receives the majority of its volume from rainfall and inflows from the 4 rivers or ‘arms’ that fill it. In fact, according to the Bureau of Reclamation, it is filled by ninety percent rainfall and ten percent snowmelt. The Sacramento River, McCloud River, Squaw River and Pit River all join together to create Shasta Lake, which was dammed up to prevent downstream flooding. Because the water comes from rainfall, it is naturally warmer coming into the lake.
|Because Shasta Lake is filled with rainfall, not from snowpack, it is much more difficult to regulate. This unpredictability is part of the reason the lake is often below full capacity, to prevent flooding. For more on the lake level, see http://houseboats.com/2011/01/epic-water-levels-why-shasta-lake-filled-in-2010/|
Secondly, the Redding area is a valley protected by mountain ranges, creating a uniquely warm environment. The topography of the Shasta Lake region is quite fascinating, with an elevation of only 1000 feet with mountain ranges Shasta, Lassen and Trinity surrounding the lake, creating a perfect environment for storing heat during the summer.
Interestingly, neither the elevation nor the heat is detrimental to the surrounding pine trees, normally seen in cooler climates. Once the prevailing winds of late spring bring in the warmer temperatures, the area is able to capture the warmth and quickly increase the water’s temperature.
Finally, Redding boasts the second highest percentage of sun exposure per daylight hour in the country. According to a recent report by CurrentReport.com, Redding averages 88 percent sunshine, from sunrise to sunset. With that much of the sun’s energy, the lake temperatures can change from a moderate mid-sixties to nearly eighty degrees in what seems like overnight.
A lake that can boast warm temperatures throughout the season makes Shasta one of California’s most extraordinary travel destinations. Spring, summer, or fall, the uniquely warm temperatures of Shasta Lake create the perfect environment for world class fishing, watersports and houseboating.