2017 has been the year of the atmospheric river. A constant surge of Pacific and tropical moisture brought snowpack and rainfall amounts not seen in California in decades.
The parade of storms started just before Christmas, when Mammoth Mountain picked up nearly three feet of snow. Things really got cranking in January, when Mammoth went on to see its snowiest month ever.
January 9-12 was one of the stronger Sierra storms. More than twelve feet of snow brought upon avalanches, power outages, and road closures. There was even an EF-0 tornado near ARCO Arena in Sacramento!
Less than a week later, parts of California saw a foot of rain to go along with another two feet of Sierra snow.
Brian Crawford was rolling through Truckee and couldn’t believe what he saw. “Going through horrible flooding in the area. The Truckee River flooded, a lot of my friends who live in the area, their basements flooded. Their houses flooded. And then just a few hours later on Sunday night, we started getting this amazing snow.”
Already swollen rivers outstretched their banks near Sacramento. Cabins washed away at the El Capitan Canyon Campground near a recent burn scar.
On a positive note, the abundance of moisture ended the exceptional and extreme drought in the state in the west.
By January 22, the next storm already had its sight’s set on California. Interstate 80 was closed once again due to heavy snow. Rock slides, mudslides, and swift water rescues resulted from flooding rains.
And February didn’t let up. Rain and melting snow became too much at the Oroville dam. A hole damaged the main spillway, then the emergency spillway gave out.
The impact of the latest round of storms brought flooding to the San Jose area. Coyote Creek flooded several neighborhoods as the Anderson Dam released rapid waters from its spillway.
One thing’s for sure, all eyes will be on the west for the rest of the season.