Storm door opens, much more needed

Folsom Lake currently 34 percent full
By: Bill Sullivan, Associate Publisher
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Rain has finally returned to the Sacramento Valley for the second time in a week and heavy snow is forecast to fall in the mountains this week. While the wet weather is sure to cause its share of traffic hazards and other inconveniences, anyone who has seen Folsom Lake knows, the precipitation is badly needed.

As of press time on Tuesday, Folsom Lake’s storage was at 332,442 acre feet. When at capacity, the lake holds 977,000 acre feet.

The current readings from the California Department of Water Resources shows the reservoir is at just 34 percent of capacity and has recently dropped to 70 percent of average for this time of year.

At this time last year, storage was at 590,854 acre feet. What does this all mean for Sacramento County residents? The answer is simple; the region has a lot of catching up to do to get back on track when it comes to water levels.

Forecasts call for 1-to-2 inches of rain in Sacramento between Tuesday and Friday of this week, according to the National Weather Service. The rainfall and, especially the snowfall should start to tilt the inflow statistics in the coming weeks. 

On Tuesday, Folsom Dam was putting out 1,756 cubic feet of water per second to serve the valley, while 747 cubic feet per second were flowing into the lake, which illustrates the 2,013 acre feet drop in storage in a 24-hour period Tuesday morning.

According to the National Weather Service, multiple weather systems passing through Northern California will impact the area, bringing snow and potentially “major mountain travel impacts.”

The National Weather Service recommends that those traveling on mountain passes, such as Interstate 80 and Highway 50 should expect delays, chain controls and reduced visibility.

A winter weather advisory was issued from Tuesday through Wednesday night, with 3-to-6 inches of snow at the northern Sierra pass anticipated. A winter storm watch was also issued for a large portion of the Sierra, effective Wednesday evening through Friday. 

Some parts of the Sierra could see up to 32 inches of snow. Snow could fall as low as 3,500 feet, according to the National Weather Service. The recent change in the weather is expected to bring continued poor visibility to the San Joaquin valley, as well as Sacramento in the days ahead.

Last week’s storm, Sacramento received its first significant rainfall in six months. It rained a total of 0.9 inches in Downtown Sacramento last Wednesday and Thursday. Precipitation Index Accumulations through Tuesday show season to date 5.13 inches, which is 60 percent of average for this time of year.

In the high country, area ski resorts are enjoying the much anticipated winter weather. Kirkwood Mountain Resort opened on Saturday with 12 inches of new snow. 

Northstar California reported 13 inches of new snow, Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows reported 12 inches, Heavenly Mountain reported 12 inches and Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe reported 8-to-11 inches.

As of Nov. 23, Boreal Mountain Resort, Kirkwood, Mt. Rose – Ski Tahoe, Northstar California, Soda Springs and Squaw Valley – Alpine Meadows resorts are open for guests.