Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Fall colors at 8,000 feet in the southern Sierra.

October rings in with a fall weather change

By: 
John Elliott

 

WEATHER WATCH - Weekly forecast: If your bones are creaking, here’s why. There are showers in the forecast! This will be the first rain since early May when .10 was recorded. With the dip in the temperatures, this could also be the October surprise that routinely catches backpackers in the Sierra high country unaware when the Indian summer turns to winter overnight with snow, winds, and freezing temperatures. Daytime temps in Three Rivers will drop 10 to almost 20 degrees from where they were this week.

 

As if on cue, the calendar flips a page and changes to the next month, and that simple turning of the page often ushers in a big change in the weather. In fact, the forecast for the first few days of the new month are looking like excellent odds for the season’s first wet weather. 

What is for certain is that the temperature will drop into the 80s, and there will be some scattered days with highs in the 70s. That will feel coastal compared to the mid-90s that were the norm for this past week. 
 
If it does rain anywhere in Kaweah Country, that refreshing moisture will be soaked up immediately by a landscape that hasn’t experienced significant precipitation event in the past six months. Add into the mix, a record run of consecutive triple digits this past summer and it’s a minor miracle that there’s anything growing anywhere or any water still extant in the forks of the Kaweah River.
 
A good seasonal indicator is the storage at Lake Kaweah and the current flows coming into the basin. As of Thursday, Sept. 27, the pool elevation in the basin was 583.05 feet above mean sea level. That means more of the basin is dry lake bottom than at any other time of the year. 
 
The current storage is 11,293 acre feet. For comparison, the storage during the season’s highest water five months ago was more than 173,000 acre feet (the lake’s storage at capacity is 185,000-acre feet).      
 
The storage of Lake Kaweah goes up or down dependent on two primary factors: (1) the needs of the downstream users, and (2) the mean inflow of the Kaweah River. The current inflow is 32 cfs, the outflow is 92 cfs. 
 
With the return of some fall precipitation events, the landscape will once again start to sprout some green growth and local wildlife can return to higher elevations where they prefer to be. It would be beneficial for the bears to return to the higher elevations since Three Rivers is proving unprepared in keeping them out of trash cans.
 
The average annual rainfall for Three Rivers is 25 inches.   
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