With the drought of 2015-16 sitting somewhat close in the rearview mirror, this winter gave us some terrible deja vu when it came to snowpack and reservoir levels. That was until Miracle March showed up.
Water and snowpack numbers are still down across the board, but we were able to play catch up the past month and now the NorCal lake levels are beginning to stabilize. While the lakes are still down overall, the outlook is currently not that frightening.
First, we can take a look at how the precipitation levels have fared compared to years past:
Now let’s take a look at the four prominent NorCal lakes and how their water levels have maintained this water season:
Lake Shasta saw it’s fair share of dry times during the 2015-16 drought, even dropping low enough to see pre-Shasta Dam relics. But March precipitation has Shasta looking healthy.
The lake is currently sitting at 83% full. Historically, Shasta sits around 105% during this time of year. It’s a welcome improvement from where the lake was sitting in late-February.
Lake Oroville has been kept low during this winter season due to construction on the Oroville Dam’s damaged spillway. Water officials also chose to keep the water low amidst fears of another overflow of the dam.
The lake is currently sitting at 56% of capacity. While that number seems low, the lake usually sits around 75% of capacity this time of year is. Considering all of the problems the lake has seen the past year and a half, the number of 56% is actually pretty good.
Also, this is what the lake looked like on January 11:
Trinity Lake was another victim of the 15/16 drought, and there was worry that this year could look similar. But now the large reservoir looks close to full after March.
Trinity sits at 75% of capacity. Historically, the lake would be at about 96% around this time of year.
Folsom Lake has surprisingly taken the biggest hit during this water season. This can be attributed the amount of snow the hills above the reservoir received, and we should see it fill up significantly as the snow melts.
Folsom Lake currently sits at 85% capacity. That looks like a good number, but considering it typically holds 136% of capacity this time of year, you can see the hit this lake has taken.
So if you notice, most of the NorCal lakes sit down around 20% of historical capacity. What will April bring?
Meanwhile, the entire state has seen massive increases in reservoir levels in March. Here is a chart outlining the situation from NWS Sacramento: