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5 Feet In Big Bear? ‘The Drought Is Going To Get Crushed,’ Forecaster Says Of New Winter Storms

SoCal skiers may see heavy snow pound their favorite resorts the next several days, as another winter storm system — again arriving in three overlapping chapters — rolls through the region. “Although we are not in an El Niño pattern, these weather systems affecting California are behaving much like El Niño, where you get these taps into the atmospheric rivers that enhance rainfall,” explained meteorologist Jim Cantore. “It looks a lot like what we should have seen last winter, but we didn’t.

Bay Area Storms: Rainfall Totals Surging, More On The Way

The Bay Area is in the midst of one of its wettest Januarys in the past 15 years, including record rainfall in Santa Rosa, and more is on the way. After the first in a series of storms soaked the Bay Area on Wednesday into Thursday morning, drenching Santa Rosa with more than 3 inches of rain, two more systems are taking aim at the region. The next soaking was expected to begin late Thursday night and deliver rainfall totals ranging from a half-inch to 1 inch to most Bay Area cities, said Bob Benjamin, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

California Water Board Faces Criticism Over San Joaquin Valley Proposal

The California State Water Resources Control Board is being urged to redraft a proposal to double the minimum environmental flows from the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers. Assembly member Adam Gray, D-Merced, has criticized the board for not paying attention to concerns voiced by multiple groups. In a statement, Gray said the proposal “contains so many oversights and error and is so substantially flawed that I cannot possibly do every issue justice in the short time I have today.”

State Increases Water Allocation

As winter storms continue to fill reservoirs and boost the snowpack, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Wednesday increased its estimate of this year’s State Water Project (SWP) supply from 45 to 60 percent of most requests.


California Grapples With Pivot From Drought Rules To Long-Term Water Strategy

With storms drenching much of California and snow blanketing the Sierra Nevada, the state’s top water regulators are grappling with how to shift from conservation rules devised during more than five years of drought to a long-term strategy for using water more sustainably. The State Water Resources Control Board plans to decide in February whether to extend the current drought regulations, which require local water districts to report on monthly water use and include measures such as prohibiting outdoor watering for 48 hours after rainstorms.

California Drought Continues To Shrink, Federal Government Says

With major reservoirs nearly full, the Sierra Nevada snowpack well above average and flood warnings in place for some rivers, federal scientists reported Thursday a continued weakening of California’s drought. Overall, 44 percent of the state remains in severe drought conditions or worse, down from 49 percent a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The improved area, roughly 5.1 million acres, is mostly in the central Sierra Nevada, which has been hit with major snowstorms in recent weeks.

California’s Water Outlook Is Brighter, But….

Though it’s still early, this year’s storms have brought increased precipitation, including heavy snowfall in the Sierras. Our real problem isn’t lack of rain, it’s a lack of water storage capacity. Despite voter approval of the $7.1 billion water bond in 2014, including $2.7 billion earmarked for new dams and reservoirs, few projects are currently under way. This week I toured the $4.4 billion Sites Reservoir project north of Sacramento, which is an exception. The Sites project has been studied for decades and engineering studies are underway.

Calif.’s State Water Project Increases Allocation To 60 Percent

Amid what’s shaping up to be one of California’s wettest winters on record, the State Water Project on Jan. 18 upped its anticipated deliveries to at least 60 percent of requested supplies. The boost from 45 percent is the Department of Water Resources’ second allocation increase in less than a month, and it comes as many of its gauges in the Central Valley have recorded twice the normal rainfall for this time of year.

Then & Now | Lake Oroville One Year Later

Many lakes and reservoirs have been slowly rising since October as Northern California saw increases in rain and snow. But January has been particularly wet thanks to “atmospheric river” storms. Lake Oroville, Lake Shasta and other reservoirs in Northern California are key pieces of the state’s water system, which moves the resource from the Sierra Nevada to cities and farmlands.

California Has The Snow. It Just Needs To Keep It Frozen

With another round of winter storms hitting California this week, the question isn’t just how much rain and snow they will dump, but how cold they will be. The coldness of storms can make the difference between one that adds to the fast-rising snowpack — an essential source of water for the state — and one that also leaves a wet mess. Northern California was pulled out of a five-year drought by a series of storms over the last few weeks that deposited huge amounts of snow over hundreds of miles of the state’s greatest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada.