With no significant rainfall since December 12, all that greenery in the foothills will begin to shrivel and turn brown soon. That is, if the storm track doesn’t take a sudden dip and drench California like it did last month.
There is no rain in the current forecast for Kaweah Country. The season’s first wildflowers, fiddleneck, are starting to bloom but it won’t be much of a display if it doesn’t rain soon.
At Lake Kaweah, the water level is rising. The current storage of 24,205 acre feet is ahead of last year by several weeks.
As of Thursday, Jan. 15, the mean inflow was 83 cubic feet per second; the outflow was 8 cfs, meaningmore is coming in than is going out. Downstream users are not requiring big releases yet as last month’s rainfall watered crops and helped replenish storage.
Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah general manager, said the current water level is 61 percent of norm for this time of the year.
“We’re not real nervous right now but we are still in a drought situation,” Deffenbaugh said. “We expect to begin releasing some water soon.”
The current season-to-date rainfall total in Three Rivers is 6.77 inches. This total, carried over from December 2014, was good news because it was ahead of December 2013. However, 2014 is now ahead of 2015 because last year on this date (January 16), 8.31 inches had been recorded at 1,000 feet elevation.
On January 15, Lodgepole rangers reported 17 inches of snow at the stake adjacent to the ranger station. What snow that’s there, however, is quickly becoming stream flow to be stored for now in Lake Kaweah.
However, the West isn’t just about California. It is an entire region, and when being examined overall, weather forecasters are predicting a normal water supply. Then comes the asterisk, which includes the Sierra Nevada.
“The Sierra Nevada region is beginning the year drier than normal,” said a report from the USDA’s National Water and Climate Center.
There is still a weak El Nino in the Pacific, but this area is always caught in the middle, making it uncertain whether this would deliver the much-needed precipitation or not.