[env-trinity] Capital Press 12-21-2010
bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Dec 22 12:27:02 PST 2010
California storms fill reservoirs, snowpack
By Tim Hearden
California's record-setting rainfall in the past week has left many
reservoirs flush with water and mountains smothered in snow.
The state's Department of Water Resources is predicting its deliveries of
state project water will be at least half of contractors' requests -- an
extraordinarily high amount for this early in the season.
"The usual procedure is to start out conservatively at the first of the
water year and see what kind of direction mother nature is going to take,"
DWR spokesman Don Strickland said. "Obviously she is going in the right
direction now, so it's not beyond the possibility that water allocations
could be increased again provided the storms keep coming on through."
The prediction comes as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been releasing
water from several nearly full reservoirs to make room for more.
At Shasta Lake, crews have been sending 15,000 cubic feet per second down
the Sacramento River, up from the normal 7,000 cfs. Releases from Folsom
Lake near Sacramento were ramped up from 15,000 cfs to 30,000 cfs, and the
Tolluch Reservoir on the Stanislaus River has been letting out 1,500 cfs
rather than the normal 200 cfs.
Bureau officials expected releases to ease back to normal by this weekend as
the deluge lets up, spokesman Pete Lucero said.
"With all of our reservoirs, one of their main purposes is for flood
control," Lucero said. With these storms coming in this past weekend and
coming up this week, we need to be sure we have enough flood reservation
space within the reservoirs."
There's plenty more water coming. As of Tuesday, Dec. 21, the water content
in snowpack statewide was 204 percent of normal for this time of year,
including 274 percent of normal for the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The abundance follows nearly a week of virtually nonstop precipitation
throughout the state -- particularly in usually parched Central California.
About 40 residents of the San Joaquin Valley farming community of McFarland
were briefly evacuated Monday, Dec. 20 for fear of flooding.
>From Dec. 17-21, Visalia sopped up 4.29 inches of rain, while 3.92 inches
fell in Bakersfield, 4.41 inches were recorded in Delano and 3.25 inches
fell in Hanford, according to the National Weather Service.
Fresno has received 3.19 inches of rain so far in December -- a big leap
from its normal 0.8 inches.
"I haven't seen this much (rain) at one time in quite a while," said Bob
Blakely, director of industry relations for the Exeter-based California
Citrus Mutual. "It's pretty much shut us down for the week, although we've
gotten a break today (Tuesday) which may allow some packing houses to get in
if they've got some sandier soil and the fruit dries off."
Rainfall is generally good for the navel orange harvest, which is in high
gear at this time of year. But too much of it shuts down picking and could
lead to rind deterioration and fungus-infected trees, Blakely said.
The West has been locked in a La Niña pattern this winter, with lots of
storms pelting the Pacific Northwest and far Northern California. But
lately, a persistent parade of storm clouds has been dousing virtually all
of California, and that parade may not end soon.
"It looks like it pretty much continues in that pattern," said George Cline,
a National Weather Service forecaster in Sacramento. "The storm door is
open, I guess, and we are tending to get these systems coming through."
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land
415 519 4810 mobile
bwl3 at comcast.net
bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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