Fresno County flooding impacts could last through summer

Saturday, March 25, 2023
Some evacuation warnings lifted for Fresno County residents, some to stay in place
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Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni has lifted some evacuation warnings and reaffirmed some will stay in place throughout Fresno County.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Flooding impacts are just beginning for Fresno County after record rain and snow.

While days are ahead for the Central Valley this spring and summer, Fresno County officials have a warning.

"As the weather gets warmer, when we don't see the storms coming anymore, as the temperatures get into the 90s and the 100s as they do here in the valley, all of that snow is going to begin to melt," said Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni.

Zanoni says some mountain areas still have 20 feet of snowbpack. Record snowfall will become snowmelt and flooding will continue to inundate Valley communities into the summer. Flooding evacuations could continue for months to come.

"Going to cause high levels along the river, going to cause unstable shore lines, muddy areas, things that are going to break away," he said. "You are going to see water levels high up to the top where there are bridges."

Releases from Millerton Lake and Pine Flat Resevoir are inevitable. The biggest areas of concern are low-lying communities along rivers including Mendota and Firebaugh.

"There is nowhere else for that water to go than through Mendota and through Firebaugh," said Lt. Brandon Purcell.

The county is using flowmeters and cameras to monitor water levels. Cal Fire is helping to fortify Firebaugh and Mendota by using tens of thousands of sandbags to build walls in weak areas.

"We have these super sacks that we can either dump in a levee if it breaks or possibly fly in," said Pursell.

Sheriff Zanoni says while people might be tempted to enjoy time on the water when the weather warms up, it will not be safe for anyone to be on the water or near shorelines. Rivers will be closed likely through July.

"Please don't create a situation where you have to be rescued," said Zanoni. "Don't create a situation where our first responders have to be put in harm's way."