Sunday, March 21, 2004

Water, Water Everywhere

Remember last year's terrible wildfires and drought out West? Remember all the usual reminders about global warming, etc., etc.? Well, times change:
The water content of California's mountain snowpack was measured at 123 percent of normal for March, 150 percent of normal north of Redding in the Shasta-Siskiyous and Trinity Alps ranges. Even with this month's unusually high temperatures, the year is shaping up as mind-blowing for farmers, cities, hydroelectric power generation and those who camp, fish and boat at the state's lakes and streams....

Even then, the water content in some areas is far enough above average that an extended drought would not be a concern. The water bank's high point in California was measured in the Trinity Alps northwest of Redding, with 163 percent of average water content for March 1. If it does not rain or snow one drop or flake for all of March, the snowpack in the Trinities would still contain 146 percent of average water content for April 1, according to the Division of Flood Management.

Lake Oroville is often a testimonial to water conditions in Northern California. In May 2001, Oroville was only 60 percent full, the highest level it reached that year. This year, it is already 84 percent full, with two months of inflows still ahead....

In the Sacramento Valley, the flood-relief bypasses, such as the Yolo Bypass, Butte Sink and others, filled during the storms fed by tropical moisture in February. From the air, it looks like an inland sea....

Water managers have been dumping water ever since, creating cheap hydroelectric power from Shasta Dam, raising water levels on the Sacramento River as much as 10 times higher than normal, and lowering the lake down to 78 percent full on Tuesday. For early March, that's still 104 percent of normal.
Remember this when you see "global warming" attached to annual weather stories again.

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