Sunday, November 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Sierra snowpack readings promise abundant water

By
May 3, 2011 |

By Kelly Zito

The big melt is on.

After topping out near record levels in early April, snowpack in the Sierra Nevada has started to recede, state officials said Monday, beginning to trickle into California’s streams and reservoirs and promising the first ample supply of water in years.

The Department of Water Resources said measurements of mountain snowfields taken Monday morning showed that snow-water content — the amount of water contained within the packed flakes — stood at 144 percent of the April 1 long-term average, down from 165 percent one month ago.

The May figure is typically lower than the all-important April figure, which represents the peak snowpack volume and the source of about one-third of the water used in the state each year.

“All indications are that we’re moving toward summer with a good water supply for our farms and cities,” said department director Mark Cowin in a statement.

Still, Cowin and others used this season’s extended wet and dry periods — January, half of February and April were comparatively light on rain and snow — to illustrate that California’s strained water system is always at the mercy of subtle and not-so-subtle shifts in weather patterns.

“There will be more carryover water this fall,” said Maury Roos, a veteran hydrologist with the state water agency, “which could be useful if the next year is dry and we need to coast for a bit.”

In the near term, state water managers will keep their eyes on the skies. After crossing their fingers for months that heavy clouds would bring higher and higher piles of snow, they now hope that sunny, warm weather will not melt those drifts too quickly and overwhelm rivers and levees.

In a typical year, Roos said, about 70 million acre-feet of water wash down California’s mountainsides and rivers, flowing into the Pacific Ocean, inland lakes or man-made reservoirs (one acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, or enough water to supply one to two households for a year). Of that, about 33 million acre-feet goes to cities and farms, he said.

A prolonged dry spell between 2006 and 2009 meant a less stable supply that forced many communities to ration water. Farmers, on the other hand, had to fallow or plow under their fields when it became clear they wouldn’t have adequate irrigation water.

This year, with key reservoirs brimming, the picture is markedly different. Storage at Lake Oroville, the state’s main reservoir in Butte County, stands at 93 percent of capacity, or 112 percent of average for the date. And Lake Shasta, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s largest
reservoir in California, is at 94 percent of capacity, or 108 percent of average for the date.

Both agencies have steadily increased their estimates for the amount of water they will be able to deliver in 2011.

The state predicts it will provide about 80 percent of the water requested by contracting agencies based on historical allocations (that number is expected to rise further). Last year, it delivered 50 percent.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, meanwhile, recently upped its forecasted deliveries to 100 percent for many of its customers and 75 percent for those with more “junior” water rights.

— Reach Kelly Zito at kzito@sfchronicle.com

Comments

comments

San Francisco Chronicle

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Hollywood readies its big guns for the holidays

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Need for local foster parents grows

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Tactical robot decreases officer risks

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Berkeley, Santa Cruz students protest fee hikes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Couple arrested on drug, firearm possession charges

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Woman confronts suspicious follower

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    UCD awarded $100M to lead program to predict, prevent pandemic threats

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Breakfast with Santa tickets are going fast

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Auction-bound student artwork stolen in downtown heist

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

    Probationers, parolees graduate from Yolo transitional program

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Free boot camp, yoga fundraiser this week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Bell-ringers still needed this holiday season

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Thanksgiving feast is open to all

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Workshop will answer financial aid questions

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Yolo Food Bank invites locals to run with the flock

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Museum announces holiday schedule

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    At the Pond: Stop, look and listen

    By Jean Jackman | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Round up at the registers for Davis schools

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Project Linus seeks donations

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Swing your partner!

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A6

    Fairfield School enjoys a festive feast

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Right at home: gifts you can use and use up

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

    Dec. 10 jeans drive benefits STEAC

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A9

     
    Davis Community Church history recounted in Sunday talk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Open your heart

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Bob Hope interview pulled from ‘the vault’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

    .

    Forum

    There’s only one way to fix this

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Students barking up the wrong tree

    By Our View | From Page: A14

    Rick McKee cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A14

     
    Heartbroken over treatment of teacher

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

    Google, tell me. Is my son a genius?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14

     
    Daryl Cagle cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A15

    Cordial political discourse: Seven years later, the thoughts resonate

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

     
    Easing the stress during college application season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

    When the computer stares back

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A16

     
    How I want to be remembered

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A16

     
    Watch out for holiday weight gain

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A16

    .

    Sports

    Turnovers costly as UC Davis loses Classic, 41-30

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie men finish off Furman

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Upset-minded Lions bounce UCD from WWPA tourney

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    New, old-look helmets not enough to lift UCD footballers

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Late shot sinks Aggie women

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD roundup: Seniors play well in Aggie volleyball loss

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    With volleyball playoff berth, DHS accomplished its 2014 goal

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    Wire briefs: Kings get past depleted T-Wolves

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

     
    Don’t pass up the parking gift downtown

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A13

    Doby Fleeman: Give thanks for our innovation culture

    By Doby Fleeman | From Page: A20

     
    Honey, spreads showcased at open house

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A20

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, November 23, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8