Tuesday, December 21, 2010

California's big group shower: breaking it down

The storms that have been pelting California in the past few days have begun to rack up some impressive rainfall and snowpack numbers.

As of today, the water content in snowpack statewide is 204 percent of normal for this time of year, including 274 percent of normal for the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The abundance follows nearly a week of virtually nonstop precipitation throughout the state – particularly in usually-parched Central California. About 40 residents of the San Joaquin Valley farming community of McFarland were briefly evacuated Monday for fear of flooding.

From Friday through today, Visalia sopped up 4.29 inches of rain, while 3.92 inches fell on Bakersfield, 4.41 inches were recorded in Delano and 3.25 inches fell in Hanford, according to the National Weather Service.

Fresno has received 3.19 inches of rain so far in December – a big leap from its normal 0.8 inches.

“I haven’t seen this much (rain) at one time in quite a while,” said Bob Blakely, director of industry relations for the Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual. “It’s pretty much shut us down for the week, although we’ve gotten a break today (Tuesday) which may allow some packing houses to get in if they’ve got some sandier soil and the fruit dries off.”

A breakdown of all things rain and snow:

December rainfall
Here are the December and seasonal rainfall totals and comparisons to normal for selected California cities, according to the National Weather Service. Totals are as of Monday, Dec. 20:
Redding: month to date 4.97 inches (normal 2.84); season to date 12.35 inches (normal 9.80)
Sacramento: month to date 4.08 inches (normal 1.47 inches); season to date 7.91 inches (normal 5.02 inches)
Stockton: month to date 2.53 inches (normal 1.12 inches); season to date 6.34 inches normal 4.14 inches
Modesto: month to date 1.97 inches (normal 1 inch); season to date 4.80 inches (normal 3.61 inches)
Salinas: month to date 1.36 inches (normal 1 inch); season to date 4.06 inches (normal 3.44 inches)
Fresno: month to date 3.19 inches (normal 0.80 inches); season to date 5.43 inches (normal 2.83 inches)

Reservoir levels
Here are the percentages of capacity for California reservoirs as of midnight Dec. 20, according to the Department of Water Resources California Data Exchange Center:
Trinity Lake: 67 percent
Shasta Lake: 73 percent
Lake Oroville: 55 percent
New Bullards Bar Reservoir: 78 percent
Folsom Lake: 52 percent
New Melones Reservoir: 58 percent
Lake McClure: 72 percent
Millerton Lake: 73 percent
Pine Flat Reservoir: 54 percent
Lake Isabella: 37 percent
San Luis Reservoir: 67 percent

Here are average snow water equivalents and comparisons to normal for the date in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, according to the Department of Water Resources California Data Exchange Center. Totals are as of Tuesday, Dec. 21:
North: 13 inches, 164 percent of normal
Central: 17 inches, 197 percent of normal
South: 26 inches, 274 percent of normal
Statewide: 16 inches, 204 percent of normal

For my complete story, check CapitalPress.com soon.

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