Snowstorms replenish state water storage
February 12, 2019 - 18:16 admin
More storms to come
February 8, 2018
The recent cold winter storms of February 1-5 restored some normalcy to the California’s water outlook for the year and maybe even beyond 2019. The full impact from what is shaping up to be one fabulous February won’t be completely known until the March 1 snow survey is complete.
February snow survey
The second snow survey of the year has been tallied and, statewide, as of February 1, the Sierra snowpack was 100 percent of average. Sierra snow is for much more than skiing, sledding, and winter alpenglows. It supplies about 30 percent of California’s water needs when it melts in the spring and early summer to meet water demands in the summer and fall.
Where the snow goes
The next two to three months remain critical and will determine what it means for the state’s reservoirs and overall water supply. If Kaweah Country approximates the nearly 10 inches of precipitation that was received in March 2018, the area would be approaching the near record-setting season total of 2016-2017 when local gauges in Three Rivers recorded 31.09 inches for the entire season.
After five years of drought, all that water in 2016-2017 filled every reservoir in California and breached the spillway (Feb. 6-10) at Lake Oroville in Butte County. Thousands had to be evacuated due to too much water for the aging state-owned infrastructure to handle.
One year later, California was again in the grips of extreme drought though carry-over from the previous wet year made the difference. Three Rivers recorded a paltry 13.03 inches; snowpack and its vital water content up and down the Sierra averaged less than 50 percent of average.
February 2019 storms
Since February 1, more storms have dumped large amounts of snow in the Sierra Nevada. In the nearby mountains of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, four to six feet of new snow accumulated over a couple days at 7,000 feet.
Road crews on both ends of the Generals Highway couldn’t clear the snow fast enough. Fallen trees complicated the roadwork on the Generals Highway in Sequoia and Highway 180 in Kings Canyon National Park.
There have been several vehicle spin-outs. In Kings Canyon, a vehicle and a snowplow collided.
Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park closed during the storm and did not reopen until Thursday, Feb. 7.
In Three Rivers, the February 1-5 storms brought three more inches of rainfall, bringing the season total to 10.48 inches (1,000 feet elevation). One year ago that total was 4.64 inches.
In February 2017, Three Rivers was brimming with 28.17 inches of rainfall and dealing with high water that was intermittently breaching the low-lying bridges.