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Calendar >  Sierra Water Runoff Coming Up Short

Sierra Water Runoff Coming Up Short

By   /  June 22, 2016  /  No Comments

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Water levels in South Lake in the eastern Sierra Nevada near Bishop (Inyo County) were very low in April.

The El Niño-fueled storms that coated the Sierra with nearly normal snow this winter brought blasts of hope to drought-weary California.
But after the flurries stopped and the seasons changed, the melt-off from the high country has been swift and disappointingly scant, according to new water supply estimates from the state.
The Department of Water Resources now projects that the mountains will produce about three quarters of normal runoff during the months of heaviest snowmelt, shorting the rivers and reservoirs that typically provide a third of California’s water — and cementing a fifth year of historic drought for the Golden State.

The projections arrive alongside forecasts for potentially dry La Niña weather next winter. And they come as cities and towns face a crucial deadline for deciding how much water to ask consumers to save in the coming year as part of the state’s broader conservation effort.

If this year’s snowmelt “was among a bunch of normal years, it wouldn’t be alarming,” said Steve Nemeth, water supply forecaster for the Department of Water Resources. “But (the melt) is not good enough to erase all the concerns after four years of record drought.”
Snowmelt’s earlier arrival

Runoff from the northern Sierra will be just 71 percent of normal between April and July, according to the state estimates. The central Sierra will yield roughly 77 percent of average over the same time, while the range’s southern end will produce only 63 percent.

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  • Published: 6 years ago on June 22, 2016
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  • Last Modified: June 20, 2016 @ 11:18 pm
  • Filed Under: Local

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