Rain, Wind, Waves, Snow and Possibly Hail Ahead This Week

A wet weekend flooded roads and reactivated slides that temporarily closed State Route 299, and even more precipitation is ahead for across Humboldt County this week. “Our crews have been out there working throughout the night responding to literally dozens of incidents,” Caltrans public information officer Phil Frisbie said on Sunday.

The landslide that closed State Route 299 at Big French Creek near Big Bar in Trinity County for multiple days in January reactivated due to rains and both lanes were closed Saturday evening.

 

Delta Smelt Populations Plummet 2nd Year in a Row

Populations of the threatened Delta smelt have plummeted to the lowest in history. The three-inch fish is often the focus of California’s water wars. Every fall and spring, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife conducts trawls to determine populations of the threatened Delta Smelt. This year the department hasn’t netted more than seven fish in each trawl.

“Delta smelt have suffered significantly because of the drought and the extended period of low inflow and outflow from the Delta,” says Carl Wilcox with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

Is El Niño Finally Ending California’s Drought?

After three years of an unprecedented drought, a “Godzilla” El Niño formed in the western Pacific. Previous years with strong El Niños had been unusually wet, with the warm patch sending one wet system after another rolling into the region. California had essentially missed two years’ worth of precipitation. Surveying the wet season to come last fall, meteorologists said that El Niño was how it might restore the balance.

Now, six weeks remain in the state’s annual rainy season, and results are mixed.

Storm Pushes Lake Oroville to Highest Water Level in Nearly Three Years

The weekend storm bolstered Lake Oroville’s water level to its highest level in nearly three years. As of 4 p.m. Monday, the lake elevation was at 792.32 feet, 107.68 feet from the dam’s crest of 900 feet above sea level. Since Thursday, the lake has risen 20.5 feet.

The last time Lake Oroville was this full was Aug. 3, 2013, when the lake was measured at 792.48 feet, according to data from the state Department of Water Resources. State Parks Superintendent Aaron Wright anticipated a busy year for the lake.

Folsom Lake Water Releases Rise As Rain Continues

With El Niño rains returning in earnest, dam operators ramped up water releases Monday from Folsom Lake as a precaution against flooding. They will double the intensity of the releases early Tuesday.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it raised the release levels to 8,000 cubic feet per second early Monday afternoon, nearly doubling the velocity from the weekend. The releases will go to 15,000 cubic feet per second Tuesday morning as a series of winter storms continues to pound the region.

Storms Boost Sierra Nevada Snowpack, Reservoirs

March storms are building the Sierra Nevada snowpack and helping to fill key reservoirs that are tapped in the spring and summer for water supply. The recent series of storms brought more snow to the Sierra Nevada – mostly in the northern Sierra.

Maury Roos, a hydrologist with the California Department of Water Resources, says the northern Sierra has nearly received its average precipitation for the entire month of March. But, Roos says, it’s not “Miracle March”… yet.

Coalition Backs Legislation to Put Delta Tunnels Before Voters

On March 1, the Delta Counties Coalition (DCC) officially supported legislation that prohibits the construction of the peripheral canal, twin tunnels or other isolated conveyance project unless approved by California voters. The coalition, which represents Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo counties, expressed its support in a letter addressed to state Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton.

“The people most impacted by the twin tunnels project must have the right to vote to approve or disapprove the project,” the letter read.

California Storms Send Billions of Gallons of Water into Reservoirs

This weekend’s soaking rains delivered just what drought-weary Northern California needed: billions of gallons of water pouring into the state’s major reservoirs — and more predicted for later this week.

With rain totals reaching 10 inches or more in some mountain areas, 46 of the largest reservoirs in California, closely tracked by the state Department of Water Resources, collectively added 391 billion gallons of water between Friday and Monday morning — enough for the needs of 6 million people for a year.

Live Updates: Major El Niño Storm Moves Through; Some Areas Soaked

A fast-moving storm soaked much of Southern California today, as frequent lightning strikes startled commuters and momentarily cut power at Los Angeles International Airport.

The storm, which had rolled south into Baja California by late morning, follows a weekend of rainy weather, traffic accidents and several swift water rescues. Northern California also saw its share of weather drama as powerful storms dumped rain across coastal regions and piles of snow in the Sierra.

Study: Atmospheric River Storms Can Reduce Sierra Snow

A new study by NASA, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and other partners has found that in California’s Sierra Nevada, atmospheric river storms are two-and-a-half times more likely than other types of winter storms to result in destructive “rain-on-snow” events, where rain falls on existing snowpack, causing it to melt. Those events increase flood risks in winter and reduce water availability the following summer.

The study, based on NASA satellite and ground-based data from 1998 through 2014, is the first to establish a climatological connection between atmospheric river storms and rain-on-snow events.