Storms on the west coast of the US have delivered needed rain – and, as expected, a jump in its water level.
On Monday, the Yosemite Valley was awash with water, and on Tuesday, the Yosemite Valley was flowing fast and heavy. Both were helped by the storm’s arrival on Monday night, when the valley was at about 100% of normal capacity, with a depth of roughly 8m.
After weeks of growing drought in the western US, and months of relief from persistent dry periods, the newest batch of storms brought welcome but erratic rainfall for residents of California. The precipitation helped combat further reservoir overflow, which has been a persistent problem for officials.
California is in its worst drought in 1,200 years Read more
Yosemite National Park spokesman Scott Gediman said on Twitter: “Thanks for asking, but we really don’t know if water levels are dropping.”
Since 2011, precipitation has fallen well short of the park’s normal record, but the flooding could help prevent further reservoir overflow. Snowmelt at higher elevations is not expected to be affected by the new snow.
Floods also occurred in the mountains of northern Nevada and California. Local officials reported “flat out flooding” in other regions of the Sierra Nevada mountains, including higher elevations in Madera, Tulare and Fresno counties, as snowpack in the west has continued to be severely depleted.
Despite the break in the drought, about a third of California remains without adequate rainfall. That stark stretch, known as the “paradise drought”, is home to roughly 40 million people and about two-thirds of the state’s agricultural production.
The storm is forecast to bring widespread snowfall to the central and northern Sierra Nevada mountains. In some areas, snow levels could rise as high as 6,000ft.
But the storm’s biggest surprise was the high rainfall totals in places, including Sacramento and San Francisco. Bay Area reservoirs, despite being significantly above their normal levels, have been inundated by sewage in recent months as a result of a record drought in California.
On Tuesday night, the city of Oakland recorded nearly 8in of rain.
The town of Monash in central California had 7.3in of rain between Saturday and Monday, about four times the area’s average for the whole of December.
Elsewhere, a 71mph wind gust was recorded at Rocky Point, California on Tuesday.