Millerton Lake is looking much fuller than years past. Friant Dam is already at 84% percent of capacity so flood releases are now underway.
Michael Jackson of the Bureau of Reclamation says the releases are needed to accommodate for future storms. "Right now we are trying to get the reservoir down a little bit lower in preparation of the snowpack that when it starts to warm up it's gonna start coming out of the hills."
1983 was our wettest year on record with 77.4 inches of mountain precipitation. But since October first we've already had 51 inches of mountain precipitation. The water year ends September 30th.
"We're doing really well this year," said Jackson. "Compared for 1983 for precipitation at this time of year we're running the second wettest year."
Monday's storm caused the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers to swell near Newman. Sarge Green of the California Water Institute monitored the river flow data. "It's jumped up 20% essentially in one day."
But the healthy snowpack isn't guaranteed to stick and stay. Green says warm temperatures and even warm storms can cause heavy runoff.
Green said, "That causes a problem in that if the snow melts too quickly and the reservoirs, especially one like Friant Dam near Fresno. It's like bucket. It fills and empties."
Water officials prefer the clouds bring in colder storms to ensure a healthy snowpack.
2010 was an above average season for rain and snow but we have already surpassed last year's total.