The rain has largely stopped after one of the wettest winters in California. But as spring temperatures begin to climb and snow in the Sierra Nevada melts, the threat of flooding has communities across the Central Valley on edge.
The storms that set a rainfall record in Northern California have left a vast layer of mountain snowpack, which now sits at almost 200% of average for the first week of May.In some areas, the snow is 80 feet deep, according to state and NASA reports.
Downstream, the rapid snowmelt is keeping public agencies juggling water levels across the state’s network of reservoirs. Water district managers conduct daily conference calls to coordinate how much water each expects to release into California’s labyrinth of rivers, creeks, bypasses and canals.
No mention of saving any of it by-the-way.
The coordination is crucial, as the reservoir releases affect water levels far downstream days later. Also, one reservoir’s release may meet with another, so managers must painstakingly chart how much water rivers and levees can support before overflowing.
The concerns are magnified in some areas by subsidence, a festering problem exacerbated by five years of drought in the Central Valley.Though the land’s gradual sinking has been documented for decades in California, studies show that in Tranquillity and other Central Valley locations, the ground has begun to dip even faster in recent years.
The question remains how the system will hold up if a scorching heat wave or a warm rain rapidly melts the snow and the reservoirs aren’t ready for the surge?
It won’t. Calamity is just around the corner. People will likely die.
Read the whole story in the LA Times