News Briefs: South Fork evacuation clearance, SNP reopening; weather watch

One of the more visible projects of the Three Rivers Fire Safe Council was installing this sign adjacent to the CAL FIRE station on Highway 198. The sign can be updated daily by firefighters to announce current fire danger status and warn residents and visitors when fire danger is extreme.

South Fork evacuation clearance

Tulare County Fire Department is set to begin their South Fork evacuation project on Wednesday, April 22. The scope of work includes peeling back vegetation and hazard tree removal from both sides of the South Fork Drive roadway from Blossom Drive to Grouse Valley Road, a distance of about six miles. 

The project is being funded by a $190,466 Climate Action Grant from CAL FIRE. The work involves tree cutting, trimming, and brush removal on an area of more than 130 acres. The work is expected to be completed within two months.

According to information furnished by the Three Rivers Fire Safe Council: This is not a “clear-cutting project,” and native species will be preserved when possible. Vegetation will be removed from roadway easements only and not from private property.

Next up: After the South Fork work is a similar clearing project for Silver City in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park. That $200,000 project involves hazard tree removal and brush clearance on privately owned land in and around the Silver City tract of cabins and summer homes.

The Silver City project is expected to begin in late June. Timetables on both projects are dependent on the COVID-19 situation and weather conditions. 

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks plan reopening

When the local parks do reopen it will be a multi-phased approach and adhere strictly to guidelines from Governor Newsom and Fresno and Tulare County officials.

Plans are in the works to reopen Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. No date has been set, and it will be a rolling opening.

When the final decision is made to reopen, it will be in accordance with all public health guidelines. Phase 1 would be to open the parks for day use in a dispersed manner. There would be restrooms available but no concessions or visitor centers open. 

Phase 2 would include opening some retail, some campsites, and some take-away food service. The goal in the second phase would be to manage density of the most popular areas.

Phase 3 will include extensive disinfecting and strict adherence to guidelines set forth by the State of California and Tulare and Fresno counties. 

Weather watch: 2020 looks a lot like 2018

Those late March and April showers brought a profusion of wildflowers, which are currently at peak bloom at 2,000 feet elevation. An intense period of drying out with warmer temperatures is forecast to be just around the corner.

If a similar script was needed for Kaweah Country weather in 2019-2020, then forecasters would need to look no further than 2017-2018. On April 1, 2018, the local snowpack in the Tulare County mountains measured 53 percent of normal. That’s precisely what it measured on the benchmark April 1, 2020, survey. 

The local rainfall for April 17, 2018, measured 12.93 inches at the 1,0000-foot elevation. And depending on the location of the gauge, the season total for Three Rivers on April 17, 2020, couldn’t be more than a millimeter or two off. It’s so close, it’s uncanny.

And, wait, this comparison of the two water years (2018, 2020) gets even stranger. In 2018, the season total was 13.03 inches, which is certainly within reach this weekend.The weekend forecast (April 17-19, 2020) features a better than average chance for a shower or two. 

Some forecast models are showing an end to this year’s precipitation as early Tuesday, April 21. The good news: 2018 was sandwiched in between two very wet years. Let’s hope 2020 is deja vu all over again. 




One thought on “News Briefs: South Fork evacuation clearance, SNP reopening; weather watch

  • April 18, 2020 at 11:13 am

    I recommend the parks open to Tulare County residents first. Don’t let out of area people in just yet.


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