Rising temperatures could accelerate snowmelt, leading to flooding worries

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Monday, April 24, 2023
Rising temps could lead to more Valley flooding
This week, temperatures are expected to be slightly warmer than normal, accelerating snowmelt in the Sierra.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As the sun shines bright, temperatures continue to rise in the Central Valley.

That's raising concerns about melting snow in our higher elevations causing waterways to overflow.

Because of the quickly changing conditions, the National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for parts of Fresno County, as well as portions of Tulare and Kings counties.

"Right now, we're looking at the possibility for snowmelt for later this week," said Bill South, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

He says the snowmelt, "will cause areas, rivers and streams to rise even further than they've already risen. A lot of them are already close to bank full."

RELATED: PG&E building barriers to protect equipment from possible floods in South Valley

South says snowmelt depends on the consistency of the heat. Typically, it accelerates once the Valley experiences mid-90-degree temperatures for two to three days.

As we face that possibility, Fresno County supervisors say they are working with state and federal partners to control where all the water goes.

"As we move water quickly out of both the San Joaquin River as well as the Kings River, that water makes its way not only into the Tulare Lake basin area but it also makes its way up north," says Supervisor Nathan Magsig.

RELATED: California leaders prepare for potential impacts of melting snow

Communities such as Mendota and Firebaugh have become areas of concern, and as flooding fears linger, Magsig says it shows that California needs to improve its water infrastructure.

"It's a wakeup call to us here in the Central Valley, as well as our leaders in Sacramento, that we need more storage capability."

Magsig says more storage means better water management, which improves how rain and snow are utilized while reducing the risk of flooding.