Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wonderful Water & Tragic Waste

It is wonderful that this is obviously a very good year for water supplies in California, and tragic that we do not have adequate water storage to capture it for the inevitable dry years.

Completing two dam projects, Auburn Dam and the raising of Shasta Dam, which we have posted on before, could resolve much of this tragedy.

The Sacramento Bee reported on the snow pack, source of our great water year.

An excerpt.

“TRUCKEE – For weeks, the storms kept coming, one after another.

“Now that the sky has cleared, Sierra Nevada residents are digging out to discover one of the most majestic and impressive debuts by winter in recent memory.

"The snow is just wonderful," said Elizabeth Carmel, a professional photographer and co-owner of the Carmel Gallery in Truckee. "To have all that we've had at this time of year, it's definitely a winter to treasure."

“From Sequoia and Yosemite national parks to Lake Tahoe, the mountain range is draped in a shimmering blanket of snow up to 18 feet deep in some places. The bounty of moisture is expected to yield lush wildflower blooms, healthier forests and fuller-than-normal reservoirs this year.

“While no one knows when the storms will resume, or even if they will, this winter's stunning start is an unexpected Christmas gift that has drawn legions of skiers to the high country, rejuvenated small-town economies and transformed the Sierra into a glistening fairyland of snow and ice.

“In recent days, low temperatures around Lake Tahoe have flash-frozen that natural artistry into a kaleidoscope of scenes that evoke the very spirit of winter, from cream-colored mounds of snow on rooftops, to icicles that dangle like stalactites from eaves, to pine and aspen trees so lacquered with frost that they sparkle like crystal chandeliers.

“The Sierra, of course, is no stranger to snow. The range, in fact, is famous for the stuff. Over the years, some of the fiercest blizzards in North America have pummeled the range, including the early snowstorms in 1846 that doomed the Donner Party and the massive snowfall in 1952 that stopped a passenger train, the City of San Francisco, in its tracks near Donner Pass.

“Lately, though, Sierra storms have lost some of their sting. Eight of the last 10 years have produced below-normal precipitation, prompting fears of long-term drought and climate change, and sapping the spirits of skiers and small-town merchants.

“Not this year. This year, winter arrived well ahead of schedule, starting with heavy rains a week before Halloween. By Thanksgiving, some ski areas had already opened. In December, snowstorm after snowstorm pounded the range, so rough-and-tumble at times that highways and ski areas were forced to close.”