Rain in Bay Area, snow in Sierra, but Reservoirs still Low

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Drought, United States Water News, Water Crisis
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A shopper tries to stay dry as she leaves Westfield Oakridge Mall in San Jose on Feb. 6, 2015. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)

Article courtesy of David Debolt and Doug Oakley | February 7, 2015 | San Jose Mercury News | Shared as educational material

The weekend storm brought more than an inch of rain around the Bay Area by Saturday evening and up to 2 feet of wet snow at higher Sierra Nevada elevations near Lake Tahoe, but Northern California’s largest drinking water reservoirs were still well below average levels.

More rain is on the way for the Bay Area before the weekend is out, with up to 2 more inches of rain and high winds expected through Sunday, a weather forecaster said. The Sierra could get up to another 18 inches of snow above 8,000 feet with 6 to 12 inches at the 7,000-foot level.

Northern California’s largest reservoirs were still below levels they should be at this time of year. As of Saturday morning, Shasta Reservoir had just 66 percent of the average storage for this time of the year, said National Weather Service Forecaster Karl Swanberg in Sacramento. Lake Oroville was at 62 percent and Trinity Lake at 53 percent.

“We’re getting good inflows into all three of those reservoirs, but it’s really too early to tell how much they will go up, because it takes three to five days for the water to make it through the system,” Swanberg said. “The levels are going up, but we’re still in the hole.”

Mount Rose Ski Area reported the most snow in the Tahoe area, with 19 to 24 inches from the latest storm, while Alpine Meadows reported 15 inches and Northstar 10 inches, according to the National Weather Service office in Reno.

In the Bay Area, sunshine traded time with rain showers on Saturday.

The Sunday Bay Area forecast calls for steady rain throughout the day, with 2 to 3 inches on the local hills and up to 1.5 inches for urban areas.

A wind advisory is in effect for Sunday with gusts expected as high as 45 mph. Rain showers will taper off through Monday, with high pressure building Tuesday, bringing dry and mild weather Tuesday through Friday, the weather service said. The storm uprooted trees throughout the region on Friday, including in Berkeley and Guerneville in Sonoma County, where rain totals were highest, according to the National Weather Service.

PG&E worked round-the-clock to restore power to some 73,000 Bay Area customers who lost power during the storm on Friday. As of Saturday afternoon, 3,500 customers remained without power, according to the utility company.

The storm’s rain totals, as of Saturday afternoon, were 1.5 inches in San Jose, 0.94 inches in Oakland, 1.38 inches in Concord, and 0.76 inches in San Francisco, according to Austin Cross, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

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