After weeks of atmospheric rivers, bomb cyclones and Pineapple Express moisture, California reservoir levels have seen a steep rise.
On Sunday, the National Weather Service shared an infographic from the Department of Water Resources, which laid out just how much California’s reservoirs have filled after weeks of heavy rain.
While none of the major reservoirs are at capacity – in fact, many are still less than half full – many are at or above their historical average for this point in the rainy season. Oroville, for example, is at 54% capacity, but 99% of where it usually is in mid-January.
But three years of drought has left the state begging for more water. Experts say it will take more than a few weeks of rain to fix California’s long-term water problems.
Reservoir levels are measured using acre-feet, or AF, a common measurement for water. One acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallons, according to the Water Education Foundation.
Reservoirs in NorCal have been at lower levels over the past year, with Shasta reservoir sitting at 29% of capacity in November 2022. Shasta was under 1.5 million AF on Jan. 1, but, in the past two weeks, over 700,000 AF of water has been dumped into the reservoir.
- Shasta — 49% of capacity, 80% of historical average
- Trinity — 29% of capacity, 47% of historical average
- Sonoma — 57% of capacity, 99% of historical average
- Oroville — 54% of capacity, 99% of historical average
- New Bullards Bar — 78% of capacity, 122% of historical average
- Folsom — 47% of capacity, 110% of historical average
Reservoirs across Central California were some of the driest in the past year. The Pine Flat reservoir near Fresno was at a shockingly low 16% of total capacity in November 2022. Pine Flat more than doubled its water levels since the start of 2023. On Jan. 1, the reservoir started with just over 200,000 AF, but after two weeks of storms is now sitting at 440,784 AF.
- Camanche — 73% of capacity, 122% of historical average
- New Melones — 36% of capacity, 64% of historical average
- Don Pedro — 72% of capacity, 103% of historical average
- McClure — 50% of capacity, 110% of historical average
- Pine Flat — 44% of capacity, 119% of historical average
- Millerton — 82% of capacity, 148% of historical average
- San Luis — 43% of capacity, 63% of historical average
Though some SoCal reservoirs are still at low levels, Cachuma Reservoir, located in Santa Barbara County is only 16% below capacity, and is 30% higher than it has been on the same date historically.
- Cachuma — 84% of capacity, 130% of historical average
- Casitas — 37% of capacity, 51% of historical average
- Castaic — 54% of capacity, 70% of historical average
- Diamond Valley — 61% of capacity, 84% of historical average
The precipitation has been welcomed across drought-ridden California, but with it has come flooding, mudslides and downed trees across the state. According to meteorologists with KTLA sister station KRON4, the wet weather should take a break by the third week of January, or next week.
Data measuring reservoir levels is available on the Dept. of Water Resources website, along with historical average levels for this date for each of the reservoirs.
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