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Early rainfall totals concern TID

POSTED December 13, 2011 8:59 p.m.

It has been a slow start to the Northern California rainy season. The low rainfall totals have Turlock Irrigation District officials mildly worried — and there is little to no chance of rain in the next week.

Other than trace amounts on Monday, there has not been any rainfall since Nov. 25 — and that was only .03 inches. In November, 1.28 inches of rain fell, compared to the average of 4.25 inches. In December there has been just a trace of rain, compared to an average of 5.96 inches. So far this season the total watershed accumulated precipitation is 4.57 inches which is just under 50 percent of normal.

In a normal rainfall year (between Oct. 1 to Sept. 30), about 1.9 million acre feet of water flows from the Sierra Nevada into reservoirs.  

TID officials said that if rainfall totals for the rest of the rainy season are average then only 1.3 million acre feet would flow. Currently, reservoirs are losing 15,000 acre feet per day with no rain.

“We are concerned because we are having such a poor start to the rainy season,” said TID Division 4 Director Rob Santos. “Fortunately, TID is in a good position because our reservoirs are pretty full. A below average rainfall this year probably won’t hurt us next year but the year after it would.”

TID Public Information Specialist Herb Smart explained that in the past there have been years that the rainy season started out slowly and ended up above average.

“We are hopeful this is just a trend and once the year plays out there will be sufficient rainfall. We are paying attention to the totals but we are not overly concerned at this point. The real worry starts when you start coupling two or more years of dry weather,” he said.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail jmccorkell@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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