Wet. After five years of drought, most of California finally has become wet. The mountains are exceptionally wet and covered with snow. The state’s reservoirs are fuller than their long term average (with a few exceptions). Flood control structures are being employed, some for the first time since 2006. We can now better understand the balance needed for California’s water system – which must operate for many sometimes-conflicting purposes in a climate with wild swings in water availability. Every year, California must operate for drought, flood, public and ecosystem health, and economic prosperity (or at least financial solvency).
Archive for date: February 5th, 2017
You are now in California and the U.S. category.
If you’re planning your outfits for the coming week, sweaters, raincoats and umbrellas are a sure bet. No one likes to wear squishy wet socks, so consider lacing up the kind of sensible shoes that can ward off puddles, because there is likely to be a lot of them this week. Forecasters are predicting 2 inches of rain by Wednesday alone. And more rain is coming with storm No. 3 on Thursday and Friday.
The Folsom Dam auxiliary spillway project is in its last phase and on schedule to finish by October, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District.The $900 million structure, which runs parallel to Folsom Lake Crossing, has been in construction since 2008 and is a joint project between several federal and state agencies: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, State of California and Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency. The Corps of Engineers built the dam, while the Bureau of Reclamation excavated the spillway chute and will operate the dam when it is finished.
There is good news and bad news about the big warm-water “Blob” that has wreaked havoc on the North Pacific for the past three years, an expert told fellow scientists at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage. The good news: The unusual warm conditions that have persisted in the waters off Alaska and the West Coast now appear to be diminishing, said the climatologist who named the water mass the “Blob.”
California’s historic drought may be winding down. But water officials across the Golden State are increasingly exploring a hidden but promising way to add to the state’s water supply: removing salt from the billions of gallons of brackish — or distastefully salty — water that lies deep below the Earth’s surface. A new report by the Pacific Institute that explores the cost of potential water sources in California is spurring hopes that the desalination of brackish water could quickly become a vital tap in the state.
State water managers poked rods into drifts as high as tree branches to measure the snowpack. They found far more snow than at the height of California’s more than five-year drought, when the measurement was done in almost-bare mountain meadows. “The winter storms across California are a welcome relief from five years of record low rainfall for Los Angeles, but Santa Monica’s groundwater, our major supply of water, has been impacted and can take years to rebound.
Water, the lifeblood of California, will be where the state experiences the most severe impacts of climate change. Unfortunately, most water agencies have yet to adjust to this “new normal” and are operating on outmoded assumptions and practices that place the state at risk of water shortages and worse. And while the recent rains may convince some that no action is needed, the science tells a different story.
The National Weather Service predicts three storms are coming to the Sacramento region this week, potentially adding at least 2 1/2 inches of rain to an already saturated season. The first storm will start Sunday night into Monday, bringing gusts of winds between 30 and 50 mph in the valley, said NWS meteorologist Jason Clapp. Stronger winds are expected in the mountains. Snow levels will be between 5,500 and 6,000 feet for the first storm, he said, and some parts of the Sierra could see up to two feet pile up.
California’s rainy winter is already bearing fruit (er, flowers). The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve has passed the minimum rain threshold of seven inches needed to trigger a massive poppy bloom. “We have reached the minimum amount of rain the poppies need, but there are many other factors that can still affect them such as late freezes or early heat waves,” the reserve posted to its website. “If all goes well, we expect the bloom to start in early to mid-March and last until mid-April or later.”
The bucolic orchards of Sutter County north of Sacramento had never seen anything like it: a visiting governor and a media swarm — all to christen the first major natural gas power plant in California in more than a decade. At its 2001 launch, the Sutter Energy Center was hailed as the nation’s cleanest power plant. It generated electricity while using less water and natural gas than older designs. A year ago, however, the $300-million plant closed indefinitely, just 15 years into an expected 30- to 40-year lifespan.