Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Shasta Lake level improving, but still low

Runoff from the December rains is still filling Shasta Lake and other major California reservoirs, enabling them to slowly rise from their historically low levels this fall.

Shasta Lake, for instance, has improved from just 24 percent of capacity in late October to 42 percent of capacity as of last night.

Here are the percentages of total capacity and average for this time of year for major California reservoirs, according to the state Department of Water Resources' California Data Exchange Center. Totals are as of Jan. 5.
Trinity Lake: 34 percent of capacity; 50 percent of average
Shasta Lake: 42 percent; 66 percent
Lake Oroville: 39 percent; 62 percent
Folsom Lake: 45 percent; 91 percent
New Melones: 23 percent; 40 percent
Don Pedro: 39 percent; 59 percent
Exchequer: 7 percent; 16 percent
San Luis: 43 percent; 62 percent
Millerton Lake: 35 percent; 64 percent
Pine Flat: 13 percent; 31 percent

Unfortunately, the break we've been taking from the rain will last at least another week, according to the National Weather Service. Too much more of this and we'll run the risk of giving back the gains we made against the drought in the fall, weather observers warn. AccuWeather calls for the next precip-producing storm to arrive in the Redding area a week from Friday. The Climate Prediction Center's three-month outlook for Northern California is still warm and wet.

Predicting how much water will be available in reservoirs in the spring and summer will be key for water agencies in determining allocations for the coming year. Growers could be in for a rude awakening this spring if we've gotten more rain than normal in the valley but not much snow -- a prospect one state water official calls "a public relations nightmare." For more on that, look for my story at CapitalPress.com soon.

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