Powerful storm brought much needed rain to California

LOS ANGELES – The storm that soaked California this week brought much needed rain to the state, which is a decline in drought due to a dry winter that only turned wet and snowy this month.

Preliminary storm data Friday showed a number of beautiful totals for the three days storm, including more than 10 inches (25 cm) of rain in some places in the Sierra Nevada and the central coast, and 31 inches (79 cm) of snow at Tuolumne Meadows in the Sierra.

In the coast of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties northwest of Los Angeles, where the droughts have been characterised as a serious to extremely many locations reported over 5 inches (13 cm) of rain for the storm.

Any addition to the Sierra snowpack is welcome: the run-off of the 400-meter-long (644-kilometer-long) range supplies about a third of the water used by Californians each year, but the most recent measurement found the water content to less than 40 percent of normal.

For provinces such as Santa Barbara, the rain will help fill reservoirs, which are of vital importance for the local water supply, although the storm made thousands of people to evacuate their homes because of the threat of the destructive debris flows, which fortunately did not materialize. A little more than a year ago, a year of drought had reduced, a large reservoir to less than 10 percent of the capacity for the historic regent of 2017.

In the San Joaquin Valley — a part of the Central Valley, the agricultural heart of California — the storm brought pluses and minuses.

“It is making it messy,” said Joe Del Bosque, owner of Del Bosque Farms, on the west side of the San Joaquin, where the rain interrupted his asparagus harvest for two days and when it resumed, workers had to walk, the harvest from the fields because tractors could not be used.

In addition to the wages for the employees, the storm will delay the planting of melons and other farmers from tomatoes, which, in turn, will delay the harvest, he said.

On the positive side, the moisture of the storm in the ground will help its almond and cherry trees, which ended up in bloom and the leaves are out. It will also help the development of crops that are ploughed in the soil where the organic melons are grown.

The eel will also help in the recharge of the groundwater on the east side of the San Joaquin Valley, which is depleted by means of pumps in years of drought, Del Bosque said.

“I think that the benefits of the storm outweigh the disadvantages of it … because we needed this rain so bad,” he said.

As the storm eastward Thursday as authorities continued to clear up rockslides and mud of the road and cut fallen trees.

In Tuolumne County near Yosemite National Park, experts were inspecting a small dam that had threatened to fail during the rain.

The operators were draining the reservoir behind the weakened 60-foot (18-metre) high dam, said spokesman Chris Orrock.

Authorities evacuated about three dozen people Thursday at the water neared the top of the dam. The officials also spotted water seeping through the front of the earthen dam, but the danger of direct interference over late that day.

The 88-year-old dam is part of the Hetch Hetchy water system that water to 2.7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Forecasters said Southern California would see, mostly benign weather in the coming days, but northern and eastern California could expect heavy snow in the mountains from Friday afternoon to Sunday two new systems moved.


AP writer Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this story from San Francisco.

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