Recent rain is reprieve from atmospheric rivers

March 29 storm was much smaller than anticipated, may provide a break in dam releases downstream to give some towns time to dry out

TULARE COUNTY – The latest atmospheric river to hit the Valley may be more of an atmospheric creek. After two huge storms flooded parts of Tulare County earlier this month, the most recent storm on March 29 was a drop in the bucket on the Department of Water Resources’ runoff and flow charts.

Tulare County’s two reservoirs – Lakes Kaweah and Success – have released a combined 80,000 acre feet of water since the second atmospheric river hit on March 15. The Army Corps of Engineers have been releasing massive amounts of water down rivers and canals, flooding areas along the foothills, in order to avoid overwhelming Schafer Dam near Porterville and Terminus Dam near Three Rivers. Warming weather and more rain are likely to combine to melt the record snowpack being stored at higher elevations and the Corps will continue releasing water to make room for those inevitable inflows.

It appears the Corps’ job will be a little easier and Tulare County soil may have a chance to get a little drier as its real time flow charts show little change on March 30 following yesterday’s rain. Saturated soils on the Valley floor will continue to impact small communities in the area as water continues to be shuttled down the hill into the old Tulare Lake Basin including the St. John’s and Tule Rivers. Several small towns, most notably Woodlake and Allensworth, are continuing to deal with the effects of being knee deep in water for an extended period of time.

Yet, the county’s largest city seems to have remained dry with little to no flooding.

“Staff at the city of Visalia have been on it,” Mayor Brian Poochigian said, noting that they have been monitoring embankments and removing debris that could have spread flooding across city streets. “The bottom line is that we were prepared,” he continued, even though some social media posts erroneously reported problems.

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