Recent rains bring much needed drought relief, and some problems to California.

January 12 2017

The rain that has been falling all around California is bringing much needed drought relief to much of the state. Despite concerns that the weekend storm’s warmer temperatures would significantly deplete the Sierra Nevada snowpack, it grew significantly. Last Monday, it was 70 percent of historic average. This Monday, it had grown to a staggering 126 percent for this time of the year.

Since Oct. 1, more precipitation has fallen across the key watersheds of Northern California — eight areas from Lake Tahoe to Mount Shasta that feed many of the state’s largest reservoirs — so far this winter than any time since 1922, according to state totals.

The rain and snow could shut off, as happened three years ago in January, although the reservoirs now are so full in many areas there wouldn’t be water shortages for several years.

Though the rain is for the most part a welcome event, it doesn’t come without a certain amount of problems. Rain from the recent storms flooded roads and storm drains, and toppled trees. It fell most forcefully in the Big Sur area of Monterey County, dumping more than 12 1/2 inches over a 72-hour period. More than 9 3/4 inches fell in the Lexington Hills in Santa Clara County and more than 6 inches soaked areas of San Mateo County.

In Contra Costa County, 4 1/2 inches of rain fell atop Mount Diablo, and 3 1/4 inches fell in Orinda. San Francisco and parts of Oakland saw 2 1/2 inches of rain. Only 1.03 inches fell at Mineta San Jose International Airport, but that still set a record for Jan. 8.

Heavy rains are also filling reservoirs which before now had been at record low levels. Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos, has gone up 31 feet since New Year’s Day, surging to 93 percent full from 42 percent full a week ago.

It is only the beginning of the rainy season in California and with all this rain it may be a good time to make sure you have adequate flood insurance.