Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
CA Celebrates Water-Filled Reservoirs With a Wary Eye on El Niño
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 7 months ago on
October 3, 2023

Share

SACRAMENTO — California ended its “miracle” water year on Saturday with enough rain and snow to fill the state’s reservoirs to 128% of their historical average, making it among the wettest years in recorded state history.

That’s a welcome boon to a state that has spent much of the past dozen years in a deep drought, forcing state leaders to grapple with how the state should share and manage its water in the future. A series of winter storms in early 2023 busted the state’s most recent dry spell.

At the same time, state officials are keeping a close eye on El Niño, which could deliver rain and snow in volumes that trigger flooding, mudslides, and deaths.

State officials measured 33.56 inches of precipitation through the end of September. California’s “water year” begins annually on Oct. 1 so it can include all of the fall and winter months when California gets the bulk of its rain and snow. The state depends on those wet months to fill its reservoirs that supply water for drinking, farming, and environmental uses throughout the state.

Those reservoirs dipped to dangerously low levels in in recent years because of an extreme drought. That prompted water restrictions on homes and businesses and curtailed deliveries to farmers. It also threatened already endangered species of fish, including salmon, that need cold water in the rivers to survive.

State Water Project Holding 27.4 Million Acre-Feet of Water

But the State Water Project — which includes 30 reservoirs and storage facilities and provides water to 27 million people — reported 27.4 million acre-feet in its reservoirs as of Sept. 30. One acre-foot of water is enough to supply two families of four for a year.

“This was as close to a miracle year as you can get,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources.

The reservoirs were helped by a series of nine strong storms that hit California over the winter. Those storms carried so much rain and snow they were known as “atmospheric rivers.” They caused widespread flooding throughout the state and were blamed for multiple deaths.

The storms also dumped tons of snow on the mountains. The state snowpack on April 1 was 237% above its historical average. It’s just the fourth time since 1950 that the state’s snowpack exceeded 200% of average, according to Michael Anderson, the state’s climatologist.

All of that snow melted in the spring and summer, filling rushing rivers and reservoirs. Water levels at Lake Oroville rose 240 feet between Dec. 1, 2022, and the end of the snowmelt period. That’s the largest increase in storage in one season since the reservoir opened in 1968, according to Ted Craddock, deputy director for the State Water Project.

Water Released to Make Room for El Niño Storms

State and federal officials will have to drain some of the reservoirs to make room for more water that’s expected to come this year. The state’s rainy season could be complicated by El Niño  — the natural, temporary, and occasional warming of part of the Pacific Ocean.

El Niño affects weather patterns around the world. California typically gets more rain and snow during an El Niño year. This year’s El Niño has a 56% chance to be considered strong and a 25% chance to reach supersized levels, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The potential for more strong storms this year, particularly along the coast, “keeps me awake a little bit at night,” said Gary Lippner, deputy director for flood management and dam safety with the California Department of Water Resources.

“We just do not have extensive flood systems on the coast of California,” he said. “That’s an area we’re paying particular attention to.”

Wildfires Smaller, Rarer This Year

All of the rain and snow this year could have played a part in what has so far been a smaller wildfire season.

Wildfires exploded in size during the drought in part because of the super dry conditions. So far this year, just over 476 square miles have burned in California. That’s well below the five-year average of 2,031 square miles, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

DON'T MISS

Hot Rod Willys: Driven to Bake the Perfect Chicago-Style Pizza

DON'T MISS

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

DON'T MISS

EdSource Welcomes Fresno News Veteran Jim Boren to Its Board

DON'T MISS

Senate Dismissed Two Articles of Impeachment, Ending Trial on Mayorkas

DON'T MISS

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

DON'T MISS

New Study Calculates Climate Change’s Economic Bite Will Hit About $38 Trillion a Year by 2049

DON'T MISS

Biden Pledges to Block Japanese Takeover of US Steel and Promises Tariffs on Chinese Steel

DON'T MISS

Don Arax Talks About His New Football Job at Visalia’s Central Valley Christian

DON'T MISS

Dem House Challengers Salas, Gray Flex Fundraising Muscle

UP NEXT

Hot Rod Willys: Driven to Bake the Perfect Chicago-Style Pizza

UP NEXT

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

UP NEXT

EdSource Welcomes Fresno News Veteran Jim Boren to Its Board

UP NEXT

Senate Dismissed Two Articles of Impeachment, Ending Trial on Mayorkas

UP NEXT

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

UP NEXT

New Study Calculates Climate Change’s Economic Bite Will Hit About $38 Trillion a Year by 2049

UP NEXT

Biden Pledges to Block Japanese Takeover of US Steel and Promises Tariffs on Chinese Steel

UP NEXT

Don Arax Talks About His New Football Job at Visalia’s Central Valley Christian

UP NEXT

Dem House Challengers Salas, Gray Flex Fundraising Muscle

UP NEXT

Career-High Strike Outs for Ryan Weathers as Marlins Best Giants 6-3

EdSource Welcomes Fresno News Veteran Jim Boren to Its Board

9 hours ago

Senate Dismissed Two Articles of Impeachment, Ending Trial on Mayorkas

10 hours ago

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

10 hours ago

New Study Calculates Climate Change’s Economic Bite Will Hit About $38 Trillion a Year by 2049

11 hours ago

Biden Pledges to Block Japanese Takeover of US Steel and Promises Tariffs on Chinese Steel

11 hours ago

Don Arax Talks About His New Football Job at Visalia’s Central Valley Christian

11 hours ago

Dem House Challengers Salas, Gray Flex Fundraising Muscle

13 hours ago

Career-High Strike Outs for Ryan Weathers as Marlins Best Giants 6-3

13 hours ago

LeBron’s Lakers Top Pelicans in Play-in, Set up Playoff Rematch With Nuggets

13 hours ago

Storm Dumps Record Rain and Floods Dubai’s Airport

13 hours ago

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he strongly supports a proposal from House Speaker Mike Johnson to provide aid to Ukrai...

7 hours ago

7 hours ago

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

8 hours ago

Hot Rod Willys: Driven to Bake the Perfect Chicago-Style Pizza

9 hours ago

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

9 hours ago

EdSource Welcomes Fresno News Veteran Jim Boren to Its Board

10 hours ago

Senate Dismissed Two Articles of Impeachment, Ending Trial on Mayorkas

10 hours ago

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

11 hours ago

New Study Calculates Climate Change’s Economic Bite Will Hit About $38 Trillion a Year by 2049

11 hours ago

Biden Pledges to Block Japanese Takeover of US Steel and Promises Tariffs on Chinese Steel

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend