The large increases in snowpack in the Sierra Nevada have been well-documented around Northern California, but another benefit of February’s historic storms was the rise in reservoir levels. Lake Tahoe rose a foot during the month of February (that’s equal to 40 billion gallons of water), but another lake’s massive rise shows just how much precipitation fell in a month.
Shasta Lake, California’s largest reservoir, rose 39 feet in the month of February, growing to 85 percent capacity and sitting at just 25 feet from the crest.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has began releasing water at a larger clip to avoid any flooding concerns. Levels on the Sacramento River are expected to rise as the water flows on Keswick Dam have increased to 25,000 cubic feet per second.
Other NorCal reservoirs have also seen dramatic increases in the past month. Folsom Lake rose 30 feet in January while Lake Oroville gained 75 feet in February. But those lakes pale in comparison to Shasta, which could fit four and a half Folsom’s inside of it.
With more storms forecasted to hit Shasta Lake during the month of March, it’s unclear whether we will see strong environmental and flooding issues this winter. Following years of drought in California, precipitation is always welcome. But how much is too much?