Dangerous storms hit California but it’s very good news for drought relief
posted at 9:01 pm on January 10, 2017 by John Sexton
California has had the wettest winter in 10 years. While that’s great news for the drought-stricken state, it’s also becoming a danger to people in some areas as rivers flood and blizzards threaten to drop up to 10 feet of snow in mountainous areas. Fox News reports on the danger the storms represent:
Forecasters warned of up to 10 feet of snow in the highest mountains, with up to 7 feet of snow around the resorts of Lake Tahoe, high risk of avalanches, and wind gusts to 60 mph. The Sierra ridge had gusts of more than 100 mph.
A blizzard warning is in effect for parts of the Sierra, a rarity and the first issued in the past nine years, said Scott McGuire, a forecaster for the National Weather Service based in Reno, Nevada.
“This is definitely a dangerous, life-threatening situation going on up there,” he said Tuesday. “People should not attempt to travel at all.”
Reuters reported Monday that 570,000 people were without power in northern and central California because of the rains. North of San Francisco 3,000 people had to evacuate when the Russian River flooded. But despite the serious problems associated with the storms, they have added millions of gallons to parched California reservoirs. The Mercury News reports:
The 154 largest reservoirs tracked by the state Department of Water Resources added 1.1 million acre feet of water from Jan. 1 to Monday, boosting their capacity to 97 percent of historic average, said Maury Roos, longtime state hydrologist.
“It’s excellent news,” said Roos. “I don’t make the decision on the official drought, but from the Bay Area north we are in good shape for this time of the season.”
Specifically, Loch Lomond, the main reservoir serving Santa Cruz, filled to capacity. All seven reservoirs that serve the Marin Municipal Water District were 100 percent full. Pardee Reservoir, the main reservoir that provides water to 1.3 million people in Alameda and Contra Costa County, spilled on Monday.
Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos, has gone up 31 feet since New Year’s Day, surging to 93 percent full from 42 percent full a week ago.
Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, tells the Mercury News, “California is a dry state and probably always will be in most years, but we certainly don’t have a statewide drought right now.” He adds, “You have to maintain credibility with the public when there are critically dry years, so you have to call it like it is when conditions improve.”
While the news is very good for the northern part of the state, the southern part still has a ways to go to recover from years of drought.