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California's epic snowpack is melting. Here's what to expect

May 9, 2023 at 4:55pm

Nathan Rott & Claire Harbage, NPR

CORCORAN, Calif. — The waters from a long-dry lake, resurrected by epic rains earlier this year, already lap at the levee of this Central Valley town of 22,000 people. A hundred square miles of crops are drowning around it. But the flood that Corcoran City Manager Greg Gatzka is really worried about has yet to come.

Tracking California's Water Supplies

Apr 17, 2023 at 9:50am

Cal Matters

California has endured deluge after deluge this winter, including several atmospheric rivers that dumped tons of rain all at once. But one good winter after years of drought does not mean California no longer faces water shortages.

Droughts are becoming more common and more extreme as the climate crisis intensifies, and communities across the state dependent on depleted underground aquifers and parched Colorado River supplies do not have enough water to meet the demands of their farmers and cities.

What to expect during the potential 'super El Niño'

Apr 13, 2023 at 8:50am

Devika Rao, Yahoo News

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a weather phenomenon in which "sea temperatures at the surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean become substantially warmer than normal," according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). As a result, it causes "extreme heat, dangerous tropical cyclones, and a significant threat to fragile coral reefs," along with overall warmer temperatures, CNN writes.

After 14 atmospheric rivers, how full are California’s reservoirs?

Mar 19, 2023 at 8:40am

Tori Gaines, KTLA 5

As wet weather has continued to impact California, some reservoirs across the state are being managed with scheduled releases of water to prevent flooding, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

After 14 atmospheric rivers hit back-to-back this winter, reservoirs began filling quickly. Though most of the major reservoirs aren’t full yet, several are significantly higher than they have been historically. This is especially true in Central California at the Don Pedro, Camanche and Oroville reservoirs, KTLA sister station KRON reports.

Climate is changing too quickly for the Sierra Nevada's 'zombie forests'

Mar 18, 2023 at 8:35am

Joe Hernandez, Cap Radio

Some of the tall, stately trees that have grown up in California's Sierra Nevada are no longer compatible with the climate they live in, new research has shown.

Hotter, drier conditions driven by climate change in the mountain range have made certain regions once hospitable to conifers — such as sequoia, ponderosa pine and Douglas fir — an environmental mismatch for the cone-bearing trees.

Extensive winter rain likely to heighten wildfire risk in California

Mar 17, 2023 at 11:40am

Danielle Dawson, Fox 5

(KSWB) – While relentless precipitation across California has eased some of the state’s most concerning environmental conditions, the risk of wildfires along the western coast is likely to increase for residents moving into the dry season.

Because of the recent storms, much of the vegetation that had stunted growth over the last few years due to extreme drought has been replenished, but according to experts, this flush could become the perfect tinder for fast-moving wildfires as the plants dry out in the months ahead.

How California is using recent floods to prepare for future drought

Mar 15, 2023 at 9:10am

Allyson Chiu, The Washington Post

As more heavy rain pummels California, the torrential downpours that have flooded large swaths of the state could help address another climate-change-related problem: drought.

This month, state water regulators approved a plan to divert floodwaters from the San Joaquin River to replenish critical groundwater stores that have been depleted after drought fueled by rising global temperatures.

California deals with surging rivers, sliding rocks and flooded towns as storm passes

Mar 15, 2023 at 3:25pm

Ruben Vives, Susanne Rust, Terry Castleman, Hayley Smith, LA Times

PAJARO, Calif. —  Surging rivers. Sliding rocks. Flooded towns.

The 11th atmospheric river storm of the season left a trail of soggy misery in California as it broke decades-old rainfall records and breached levees this week.

In the Tulare County city of Porterville, residents on both sides of the Tule River were ordered to evacuate Wednesday morning as levels rose at Lake Success, sending water running over the spillway at Schafer Dam.

California storms create paradox: Too much water in reservoirs, too soon

Mar 10, 2023 at 8:35am

Alastair Bland, Cal Matters

Two winters’ worth of snow has already fallen in the Sierra Nevada since Christmas, pulling California from the depths of extreme drought into one of its wettest winters in memory.

But as a series of tropical storms slams the state, that bounty has become a flood risk as warm rains fall on the state’s record snowpack, causing rapid melting and jeopardizing Central Valley towns still soggy from January’s deluges.

How Weather Forecasts Can Help Dams Supply More Water

Feb 23, 2023 at 8:20am

James Dinneen, Yale Environment 360

Between Christmas and January this year, a parade of nine atmospheric rivers — vast streams of water vapor flowing east from the tropical Pacific — pummeled California. The trillions of gallons of rain poured on the state caused widespread flooding. While the rain topped up some drought-depleted reservoirs and aquifers and filled out snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, much of the water quickly ran off into the sea, flowing off asphalt and farms or released from reservoirs to prevent further flooding.

Mudslides, threat of ‘wet vintage’ won’t dampen Bay Area winemakers’ delight in record rainfall

Feb 21, 2023 at 8:00am

Aldo Toledo, The Mercury News

As Prudy Foxx walked through rows of ripening fruit at several vineyards nestled among the Santa Cruz Mountains last September, she cringed at the spindly shoots rising from the stocky grapevine trunks.

“I was looking at the canes going into winter, and many of them were a little thin for my taste,” Foxx said. “They were the diameter of a No. 2 pencil and lacking in their protein component. I thought ‘that’s a real issue.’ ”

Storms headed for California to boost already healthy snowpack

Feb 19, 2023 at 8:10am

Natalie Hanson

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — After a mostly dry February, California may see a return of stormy weather over the next week — a welcome addition to a snowpack that will bring some relief to the historic drought. 

The Western Regional Climate Center reported Thursday that despite a relatively slow February for snowfall, a deep snowpack that began accumulating during three weeks of relentless storms last month has grown stronger in California and the Great Basin.