California’s record snowfall poses serious flood risk, officials warn

People walk in front of a snowman stacked in front of a condo as snow falls from yet another storm system on March 28, 2023 in Mammoth Lakes, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

California state water officials said Monday that statewide snowfall could hit a record after a series of recent powerful storms, and melting snow from the Sierra Nevada mountains poses a serious flooding risk to some areas. said to bring

This year’s heavy snowfall brought some relief to California as it grappled with a prolonged drought and plummeting reservoir levels. Ranked the best. 4th snow survey of the season By Water Resources Department.

Officials who took readings from 130 snow sensors installed statewide said the results were higher than any other readings since the sensor network was established in the mid-1980s. Before the network was established, his April summary of snow course measurements in 1952 was also 237% of the average, but at the time there were fewer snow courses, making comparisons with this month’s results difficult.

“This year’s results will set a record for one of the biggest snow years ever recorded in California,” said Sean de Guzman, Manager of DWR’s Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Unit.

“Additional snow courses have been added over the years, making it difficult to accurately compare results across decades, but this year’s snowfall is arguably the highest seen in the state since the 1950s. “It’s one of the biggest ever,” Guzman said.

Snow levels in California varied by region, with snow cover in the Southern Sierra reaching 300% of its April 1 average and snow cover in the Central Sierra reaching 237% of its April 1 average, officials said. said. Also, the significant Northern Sierra, home to the state’s largest surface reservoir, reached 192% of its April 1 average.

A person walks near a snowman obscuring a condo as snow falls into the Sierra Nevada Mountains from another storm system predicted to bring heavy snowfall to the higher elevations on March 28, 2023 in Mammoth Lakes, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A series of storms this winter involved a dozen atmospheric rivers, causing widespread flooding, landslides and other damage, dropping several feet of snow on mountains and pushing up water levels in reservoirs.

After a series of recent storms, DWR officials announced last month that the state will provide 75% of the requested water supply. Up from 35% February forecast. Officials also warned that new quotas could be adjusted if extreme dry conditions were warranted.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in March that the state will implement a voluntary 15% reduction in water use in July 2021 and an order in March 2022 requiring city water suppliers to do more conservation work. has withdrawn some of its most severe drought limits.

Firefighters from the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department respond to a leaking propane heater and a small fire at a covered restaurant surrounded by snowballs on March 12, 2023 in Mammoth Lakes, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

The size and distribution of the state’s snowpack poses a significant flooding risk to regions of California, particularly the San Joaquin Valley, which is located in the southern part of the state’s vast Central Valley and is largely drained by the San Joaquin River. . long dormant lakes in the area, Lake Tuleais reappearing after being drained for farmland almost 100 years ago.

“This year’s severe storms and flooding are the latest examples of how California’s climate is becoming more extreme,” said DWR Director Carla Nemes in a statement.

Winter storms have helped snowpacks and reservoirs, but officials warn groundwater basins are slow to recover and many rural areas are still grappling with groundwater supply shortfalls.

Officials also warned that prolonged drought conditions in the Colorado River Basin will continue to affect water supplies for millions of Californians, urging residents to save water, Because we expect more variation between wet and dry conditions in the future.

Workers remove snow from the roofs of a residential complex in the Sierra Nevada mountains on March 29, 2023. After yet another storm system brought heavy snow and lifted more snow masses in the snow piled up by new and past storms. March 29, 2023 at Mammoth Lakes, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images California’s record snowfall poses serious flood risk, officials warn

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