Science & Health

California's Most Famous Empty Lake Is Full Again, Thanks To El Niño

California's Most Famous Empty Lake Is Full Again, Thanks to El Niño

El Niño’s been very busy blasting the US West Coast with storms. Now Folsom Lake, one of the most famous lakes to be depleted by California’s drought, has surpassed its average water level for early February and will soon reach capacity for this time of year.

Last month, Lake Oroville made headlines when it rose 6m in 10 days. Folsom Lake was also busy filling up — although not as quickly; it rose 9m in 30 days — and the reservoir has now achieved something quite notable for being on the brink of disaster just two months ago. Behold!

California's Most Famous Empty Lake Is Full Again, Thanks to El Niño

Go here to view video from ABC10

The lake is at levels that are above what this date has seen throughout history, reports ABC10, and climbing. For the first time in several years, engineers will have to decide what to do with all that extra water, which might include releasing some from the dam. Although the reservoir is only about half full, hydrologists can only fill it to certain levels at different times of year to prevent flooding.

California's Most Famous Empty Lake Is Full Again, Thanks to El Niño

Let’s just hope it keeps climbing — here’s what happened for the last two years.

California's Most Famous Empty Lake Is Full Again, Thanks to El Niño

This is all great, but of course, California needs snowpack, not just refilled reservoirs. The California Department of Water Resources also tracks snowpack for the Sierras and the news is just as notable on that front. Across the state, all three snow sensors are recording snowpack above normal, with a statewide average of 114 per cent.

California's Most Famous Empty Lake Is Full Again, Thanks to El Niño

The state’s snow survey took place today in Northern California and the results are far, far better than in years past. With 193cm of snow this particular location was showing 130 per cent of the average since 1966. Even more good news: The water content is 64cm, which is “a really good start for this year”.

Compare that to February 2014 when there was only 20cm of snow, and April 2014 when there was no snow at all.

[ABC10 h/t David Oliver]

Image via ABC10 video


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