Rain, Snow Continue in California; Could Restore Historic Dry Inland Tulare Lake


Rain and snow continue to pound California in the season’s 11th “atmospheric river,” and are bringing water in such volumes that an old inland freshwater body, Tulare Lake, could be restored for the first time in 40 years.

As Dan Waters noted at CalMatters.org, the lake, in the southern Central Valley region, dried up after water diversions to farms and the building of dams.

Image from the Aug 14, 1898 issue of the San Francisco Call, from an article titled “Tulare Lake Dried Up: Disappearance of the Largest Body of Fresh Water in California” (Wikimedia Commons)

It was last filled in the wet winter of 1983, but may come back:

The most spectacular re-emergence of Tulare Lake in recent years occurred in 1983 as record snows in the Sierra once again overcame human efforts to control its rivers. The lake was so high that two men, Bill Cooper and John Sweetser, kayaked 450 miles in 11 days from central Bakersfield to San Francisco Bay. They paddled down the Kern River, across Tulare Lake, up the Kings River and through the Fresno Slough into the San Joaquin River for a downstream run into the Delta and San Francisco Bay.

This bit of California history is offered because snowfall in the watersheds of the Kings and other rivers that flow naturally into the Tulare Lake basin is surpassing the record level of 1982-83. It’s almost certain that Tulare Lake will once again spring to life.

Governor Gavin Newsom (D) — who left the state for Mexico during part of the ongoing crisis, as residents of mountain communities were trapped — extended a state of emergency Tuesday to 40 of the state’s 58 counties.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

California’s 11th atmospheric river storm of the season barreled through a beleaguered state Tuesday, dropping more rain and snow, sending thousands once again scrambling for higher ground and leaving more than 300,000 without power.

More than a dozen locations along major rivers were overflowing as the high-impact storm moved south through the state, including areas along the Salinas, Sacramento and Merced rivers. The Pajaro River, which suffered a levee breach from a similar storm last week, continued to spill water onto neighboring farmlands and communities.

San Francisco suffered high winds that peaked as high as 97 miles per hour, downing trees and even damaging skyscrapers. Flooding continued in the Santa Cruz mountains and threatened crops in the Salinas Valley.

In Southern California, heavy rain — and snow at high elevations — continued to wreak havoc. Landslides are a threat in some areas, and Some residents are unable to leave their homes in the mountains due to snowdrifts.

In the Central Valley town of Merced, which is otherwise happy to see a three-year drought ended, the rain has brought another problem: theft by criminals who seize the opportunity of temporary evacuations to strike.

In the mountains near Lake Tahoe, snow has buried homes, damaged buildings, and even submerged skilifts. There is money to be made shoveling snow — but some residents are joking about moving to sunny Mexico.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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