After a disappointing winter in terms of rainfall, this month’s wet weather was a cause for celebration at Turlock Irrigation District’s Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday — and there’s still more to come.
Director Charles Fernandes joked that the wave of water March has dropped on the region is reminiscent of the “March Miracle,” the stormy March 1991 that launched the beginning of the end of the state’s 1987-1992 drought.
While the current snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountains isn’t quite up to par with the March Miracle of the past — a study by UCLA reports that it’s just 41 percent of normal — the nine inches of rain that the Tuolumne River Watershed had accumulated this month as of March 19 is well above the 5.36 average for the area, and there are still 12 days left in the month.
“That helps make up some of the deficit from December and February,” TID Utility Analyst Jason Carkeet said.
The watershed received just 0.24 inches of rain in December, compared to the historical average of 5.95 inches, and in February received 0.86, compared to the historical average of 5.99. January’s rainfall was similar to past years.
Despite the 21.57 inches of rain accumulated in the watershed since October being just 76.3 percent of the historical average, the March rainfall has helped improve that number. Prior to March, the watershed had received just 12.3 inches or rain, or 50.1 percent of the historical average.
That number will only continue to improve this month, as the precipitation forecasts shows the next week will bring another five to seven inches of rainfall.
TID Water Distribution Department Manager Mike Kavarian said that the canal flows increased from 400 cubic feet per second to 600 cubic feet per second this week to help with flood control.
“We are getting some water orders, but not so many that we can ease up some of that water,” he said. “But, whatever we don’t is spilling through the rivers.”
Running irrigation water at higher speeds eases pressure off of Don Pedro when there is significant rainfall, Kavarian added.
“Right now, we’re doing that to help the cause,” he said.