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Don Pedro Reservoir nears max capacity with more rain on the way
Powerful winter storm topples trees, causes power outages throughout Turlock
City workers are kept busy removing a fallen tree on Quincy and Marie Streets Friday afternoon. The maintenance workers cleaned up about 17 trees total around town by Friday afternoon during the blustery weather. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

While the latest winter storm to hit Turlock left the city with a number of toppled trees and several power outages Friday, the precipitation forecast for early next week could have more serious implications as it has the potential to push Don Pedro Reservoir past its maximum storage level and force Turlock Irrigation District to operate its controlled spillway.

According to TID, the current combined forecast for Monday and Tuesday calls for nearly 5 inches of precipitation in the Tuolumne River Watershed above Don Pedro Reservoir. If this forecasted amount develops into actual inflow to the reservoir it will put it above its maximum physical storage level of 830 feet, leaving TID with no choice but to operate its controlled spillway in compliance with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Flood Control Manual. While this forecast continues to fluctuate hourly in both duration and magnitude, TID said in an update at 4 p.m. Friday that the district treats these forecasts as actual precipitation numbers to allow for prudent planning.

As for Friday’s storm, the National Weather Service office in Sacramento issued a wind advisory for a greater portion of the day as southeast winds between 25 to 35 mph, and gusts up to 55 mph, slammed the region throughout the afternoon and early evening. The windy weather undoubtedly played a role in the toppling of 17 city-owned trees and four privately-owned trees that were reported by Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Staff Services Analyst Juan Vargas as of 3 p.m. Friday. For up-to-date information on power outages, visit

The wind also brought about 50 weather-related outages throughout TID’s service area as of 6 p.m. Friday. There were also reports of at least two downed power lines. If you should come across a power line, never touch the fallen power lines or try to rescue someone in contact with a power line. If a line falls on your car while you're in it, stay inside and wait for help. If you have to get out because it's on fire or filling with smoke, open the door and without touching the sides of the car jump out and land with both feet together and then shuffle away keeping your feet as close together as possible and not lifting them off the ground.

Call TID at (209) 883-8301 (24-hour hotline) or 911 to report a downed line.

Flooding was also a concern on Friday, however, Regulatory Affairs Manager Garner Reynolds said that the City of Turlock works proactively to avoid flooding that may result from a storm likened to the one seen Friday by continuously monitoring weather forecasts, preparing sandbags, and draining storm basins. These measures appear to have worked, according to Reynolds, who said that as of 1 p.m. Friday, Turlock had not experienced any localized flooding.

“We have been actively moving water through the City ahead and during the storms,” said Reynolds.

Friday’s storm is only the beginning of a weekend of rainfall as the current forecast for the Tuolumne River watershed above Don Pedro Reservoir calls for approximately 2.3 inches of precipitation through Sunday, according to TID, who said that they do not anticipate the reservoir reaching its maximum physical storage level of 830 feet during that time.

NWS Sacramento also issued a flood watch for interior northern California from Sunday evening through early Tuesday morning. An incoming strong storm will bring a period of excessive rainfall, and the combination of saturated ground, heavy rain, and snow melt will result in large amounts of runoff into rivers and streams. Significant rises in river and streams are expected to begin Sunday night.

A flood warning was also issued for the Merced River at Stevinson as it was expected to reach flood stage Friday evening, followed by the San Joaquin River at Newman, which is expected to reach flood stage Sunday.

TID said Friday that it will continue to make releases to the Tuolumne River to accommodate water inflow to Don Pedro Reservoir in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Stanislaus County’s Office of Emergency Services. As of 4 p.m. Friday, the elevation of Don Pedro Reservoir was at 826.4 feet, which is just below the maximum physical storage level of 830 feet, and inflow to the reservoir was at 10,214 cubic feet per second.

Sandbags can be picked up at 901 S. Walnut Rd. Pick-up is available between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours may be extended and additional sandbag pickup locations may be added if demand is high.

Residents can report street flooding by calling Municipal Services at 668-5590, fallen trees or signs by calling Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities at 668-5594, or downed power lines by calling the Turlock Dispatch Center at 668-1200. To sign up for emergency notifications through Stanislaus Office of Emergency Services, visit