Storms replenish key reservoirs amid California drought, but others still below capacity – ‘We still don’t have water in all the right places to meet demand going into peak season’Posted by Jim at Tuesday, March 15, 2016
By Janie Har
14 March 2016
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Four straight days of rain have replenished several key reservoirs in drought-stricken California, but the El Nino-related storms also led to the death of a highway patrol officer who was struck while directing traffic on a snowy Sierra Nevada freeway.
The series of storms that started late last week was expected to taper off Monday, with warm temperatures and blue skies forecast throughout California this week.
The latest storm weakened as it moved south, bringing drizzle and a high surf advisory to Los Angeles County.
In Northern California, authorities reported that lakes Shasta and Oroville haven't been this full since 2013, delighting a state in its fifth year of drought but falling short of ending concerns about the drought.
Lake Shasta, the state's largest reservoir, was at 79 percent capacity on Monday and at 103 percent of its historical average for this time of year.
The 21-mile long reservoir north of Redding now holds 3.6 million acre-feet of water, enough to supply 3 million to 6 million households for a year. The federal reservoir is critical to farms and cities throughout the agriculture-rich Central Valley.
"It's definitely welcome news, but it's kind of a mixed bag for us," said Shane Hunt, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. "We still don't have water in all the right places to meet demand going into peak season."
For example, man-made Lake Melones in the Sierra Nevada foothills remains at just 22 percent of capacity and well below the historical average.
The state's second largest reservoir, Lake Oroville, was at 70 percent of capacity and 97 percent of its historical average. Folsom Lake, 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, was at 69 percent of capacity. [more]