Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rain Rain don’t go away

Disclaimer:  I did not take any of these pictures, credit can be found by putting mouse over each picture/image.

KXTV Picture of Mammoth

Two snows and rains within eight days of each other offers hope to Northern Californians who have been suffering through a number of years of drought.

Boreal Mountain, Ca. November 2, 2015, abc10.com     Near Donner Summit, abc10.com

Of course, to make a real impact on the drought, they will need somewhere around 30 feet of snow up in the Sierras.  Here are some of the historic figures for the Sierras along highway 50 and I-80:
  • 1 day snowfall: 67 inches (5.6 ft.) at Echo Summit, Jan 4, 1982 (2nd in US)
  • Single storm snowfall: 186.6 inches (15.6 ft.) at Donner Summit, 1982 (2nd in US)
  • 1 month snowfall: 390 inches (32.5 ft.) at Tamarack, Jan. 1991 (US record)
  • Total winter snowfall: 884 inches (73.7 ft.) Tamarack, 1906-07
  • Greatest snow depth: 451 inches (37.6 ft.) at Tamarack, Mar. 11, 1911 (US record)
  • Highest average March snow depth: 108 inches (9 ft.) at Echo Summit
So “historic” snowfall would do much to relieve the drought…but what is really needed is a few years of near historic, along with finishing the maintenance work on Folsom Dam which is preventing it from being filled to capacity “if” there was enough rain to do so.

Tornado Warning, KCRA

Not only did we have rain and wind today down in the valley, but south of Sacramento there was even a Tornado Warning, although no report of a tornado hitting the ground or any damage.

Storm - KCRA

Seeing pictures like the one above reminds me of the many years spent in Arkansas!

Folsom Lake, KCRA     Lake Oroville, KCRA

Above are recent pictures of Folsom Lake (left) and Lake Oroville (right), both at or near record lows.  Water should be covering most of the dirt areas behind the dam on the left, and in the entire picture on the right. Oroville feeds the Sacramento River (as does Shasta Lake much further north), and Folsom feeds the American River which merges with the Sacramento River in Sacramento.  River levels are not as low because they need to be at levels compatible for the Salmon, Shad, Striper and Sturgeon runs (although technically I don’t think the Sturgeon don’t have runs).

Folsom Lake Flood Stage -- watereducation.org

Above is a picture of Folsom Dam with all gates open, and the lake at flood stage. 

Tower Bridge a flood stage, Sacarmento -- sacratomatovillepost.com

Above is a picture of the Tower Bridge, which spans the Sacramento River between Sacramento and West Sacramento…you can see it in the the TV show “The Mentalist” in many episodes.

Most of Sacramento is in a flood zone…much like New Orleans. The American and Sacramento rivers meet in Sacramento near downtown. Earthen Levees surround the city along these rivers.  Sacramento has the second-highest flood risk of any major U.S. urban area. If a levee breaks, some residents could have as little as 20 minutes to flee.  During times of drought, and frankly during most years, this is not a thought to most of the people who live here…until there “one of those winters”…a winter in which the dams are near capacity or are being kept low to handle the high snow pack in the mountains. 

Yolo Bypass -- wikipedia.org

When I lived in Sacramento for 31 years, I saw the river levees just feet from overflowing.  Two of these times I lived just a city block or two away from the levee.  At times like that, you also worry about levee breaks, something that has not happened in Sacramento for many many years now…but it has happened further up north in places like Yuba City, or further down the river in the Delta. So far Sacramento has been saved due in part to the Yolo Bypass (above) which floods the west side of the river as the river reaches certain heights.


So we know that the lakes will once again fill, the rivers will continue to flow, and one of these days they will be talking about flooding again.  That is the way of life in Sacramento. Thank goodness that while Sacramento is at a mere 13 feet in elevation, Citrus Heights is at 167 feet…so mom and dad and sisters are all safe…but other family live in the lower ground, so we always worry when the water starts reaching the top of the levees.  But for now…”rain rain don’t go away, we need the water for future days.”


  1. Great description of the area Dave. I've been up there when the levees DID break and flooded everything East of the river. I'm hoping the lakes get back to full capacity in the spring.

    1. I sure hope the rain and snow does not stop in January like it did last year..with El Nino, I think it will be a good wet winter.

  2. Good see some snow! Sure hope it continues to fall for many months. Those lakes look so pitiful. Let's hope they are filled to the brim real soon.

    1. Yes, the lakes look so very low...but I know from past experiences that they can fill up pretty quick if the rain and snow come just right.

  3. Hi Dave and Marcia:
    This is the first time I've visited your blog in quite a while; and, what a great post it is. Your knowledge of some my stomping' grounds is appreciated. Thank you for sharing. I just left Sacramento last Friday, a few days after the change in weather. Frankly, when I arrived on October 1st, I thought, "Dear God, let this dry heat pass!" So, last week one day in Roseville it was up to about 90 degrees, then went down to in the 30s that night. The horrible heat is gone for another few months. and, it can get very cold. But, like you, I pray for rain, and especially Sierra snow to cure this drought. I drove over the Folsom Dam Road several times while I was there and it's enough to make me cry when I look at Folsom Lake. I haven't seen Lake Shasta this year but I bet it looks terrible, too. All those fingers that constitute the lake must be dry. Sad. nIce to"see" you both again.

    1. I hope you continue to post blogs about your time in Guatemala ... be it a few years or a lifetime. I find it fascinating what you are doing teaching and I guess you can call it mentoring too. I guess you won't have to pay California taxes any more after this year....what a PLUS that must be. :)

      More rain and snow on its way for Sunday!!!! So far things are looking bright in that area.


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