All the rain that fell in December helped raise water levels in dry Lake Shasta, but a series of winter storms failed to create a significant influx of water into the state’s largest reservoir. .
That’s expected to change over the next 10 days as a series of wet storms pass through the area, bringing several inches of rain. This prompted the National Weather Service to issue flood watchdogs on Wednesdays and Thursdays in Shasta County.
“This next system we pass through is going to hit Shasta hard,” Don Bader, area manager for the U.S. Reclamation Service, said Tuesday morning. You’ll see it coming.”
The Regeneration Bureau operates Lake Shasta and Lake Trinity. The two reservoirs have water that is used to supply water to numerous local water authorities, including the City of Redding and Lake Shasta, the Bella Vista waters, and other smaller bodies of water in the Redding area.
As of Tuesday, Lake Shasta was 34% full, 57% of its normal for this time of year.
Trinity Lake, which also supplies water to Whiskeytown Lake and the Sacramento River, was 38 percent of normal, according to the California Department of Water Resources.
Bader said Lake Shasta rose about 10 feet in December.
The biggest wet December winner was Folsom Lake outside Sacramento, which was nearly two-thirds full on Tuesday, 148% of the average.
“The American River is a fairly large basin, and the Folsom River is not a very large reservoir, so it could rise a foot an hour,” Bader says.
He said the displacement into Folsom was about 100,000 cubic feet per second, while Lake Shasta was getting only “15,000 to 20,000” cfs.
“With this next system, it quadruples in a day. “We can fill this up in the winter. Shasta may be full, but it has to keep raining.”
This didn’t happen last year.
After a wet autumn and early winter, the rain stopped in January, February and March.
“December, January and February are important months for precipitation. .
“It’s reassuring. There are certainly some good storm events until at least mid-January,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Water Resources conducted its first snowfall survey on Tuesday, showing statewide snow cover at 174% of the average for the day.
Despite the encouraging numbers, state water officials said relief from the prolonged drought was in the coming months.
And while snow on the mountains is a welcome sight, Bader reiterated that rain is the key to Lake Shasta. 90% of the water that fills the reservoir each year comes from rain.
“What killed us in the last two years was that all the water and snow that flowed into the tributaries was so dry,” says Bader. “These December rains have kept it wet and ready, and now most of the runoff flows into the lake.”
This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight. California storm: Lake Shasta rises 40-50 feet