Shorts? Sun glasses? Sunscreen? No. Keep that raincoat handy.
Just as the Bay Area was getting used to sunshine and dry days, another week of rainy weather looms on the horizon. Three separate storm systems will move toward Northern California starting Wednesday, bringing rain almost every day through the following Wednesday, forecasters said Monday.
The storms will not be as strong or as violent as during the last system, which peaked on February 4, wreaking havoc in Southern California, dumping 5 feet of snow on the Sierra, triggering power outages throughout the state and triggering flood warnings on the Guadalupe River near downtown San Jose.
“It’s not on the level of what we saw the weekend before last, but there’s still a fair amount of rain coming,” said Brayden Murdock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey. “It will be prolonged rain. And it will end up being a good amount of money.
The first storm Wednesday and Thursday will be particularly mild with less than a half-inch of rain in most locations. The second, Saturday and Sunday, will be stronger, with river weather conditions probably mild. Details of the third storm, forecast for next Monday and Tuesday, are still unclear.
But when the storms are over in a week, most Bay Area cities will have received another 2 to 3 inches of rain, with the Santa Cruz Mountains, Big Sur and North Bay Hills receiving 4 to 6 inches, according to the forecast. National Weather Service.
An additional 1 to 2 feet of snow is likely to fall in the Sierra Nevada next weekend.
So far, this winter is looking almost perfect in terms of timing and water supply, experts said Monday.
“After a slow start, we’ve gained a lot of ground,” said Jan Null, a meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services in Half Moon Bay.
Reservoirs have been rising steadily in recent weeks, without the type of major flooding and damage that occurred in 2017 or last January and March, when waves of strong atmospheric river storms hit Northern California, forcing the President Biden to visit to assess the damage at Capitola Wharf and Seacliff. State Beach in Santa Cruz County.
The Sierra snowpack, the source of nearly a third of the state’s water supply, started this year at 25% of normal and reached 73% of normal on Monday, and will likely continue to rise throughout the weekend.
The breaks between storms were essential. Instead of one devastating storm after another, there were sunny days to disperse the rain. This model is exactly what California needs to shore up its winter water supply in an orderly manner.
“Dry days give everything a chance to recover,” Null said. “Rivers can recover. Emergency services can recover. PG&E can recover.
California has suffered severe droughts in 8 of the last 12 years. Today, no state is currently facing any level of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly report. And the way this winter is playing out so far greatly reduces the chances of water shortages later this summer.
“Our storage is in very good condition,” said Andrea Pook, spokeswoman for the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which provides water to 1.4 million people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
On Monday, the department’s 7 reservoirs were 84% full.
To the north, the 7 reservoirs of the Marin Municipal Water District were 100% full. Santa Cruz County’s main reservoir, Loch Lomond, was 100 percent full.
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park, the largest reservoir operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, serving 2.4 million people in San Francisco, Peninsula, northern Santa Clara counties and South Alameda, was 89% full Monday.
In Contra Costa County, the largest reservoir, Los Vaqueros, was 83 percent full.
The only major water district in the Bay Area without full or nearly full reservoirs is the San Jose-based Santa Clara Valley Water District, where the agency’s 10 reservoirs were only 37% full Monday. This is largely because the district’s largest reservoir, Anderson, near Morgan Hill, was drained for earthquake repairs.
When it comes to California’s largest reservoirs, critical pillars of water supply for millions of city dwellers and farmers, nearly all are above their historical averages, boosted by last year’s soggy winter .
Shasta Lake, California’s largest reservoir, near Redding, was 83% full Sunday. It has risen 21 feet in the last three weeks. Lake Oroville in Butte County, the second largest in the state, was 79 percent full, having risen 20 feet in the past three weeks.
As the latest wave of big storms arrived, state and federal officials increased flows from Oroville, Shasta, New Melones and other large dams, to free up space to capture incoming water and reduce the risk of flooding.
Most of California’s rain and snow falls in the north. It is transported to the Central Valley, the Bay Area and Southern California via an extensive network of pumps and canals.
On Monday, a network of eight weather stations in major Sierra Nevada watersheds that fill many of the state’s largest reservoirs, known to water managers as the “Sierra 8-Station Index of the North”, showed 84% of the historical average precipitation.
After years of extreme drought, marked by normal or near floods, this is a pleasant surprise for many.
“We’re pretty close to averages in a lot of places,” Null said. “It’s closer to a typical winter than we’ve had in recent years. It’s not as intense as last year, nor as dry as previous years. We are in the normal range, and it is much better than being on the flanks.
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