Triple-digits to bring wave of water

Due to high temperatures melting the snow, the Kaweah River roars at the River View Grill and Bar in early June. (Kason Clark)

Excessive heat will begin rapidly melting snowpack sending more down more water from the Sierras for farmers and river rafters

TULARE COUNTY – Triple-digit heat arrived last week and will hang around this week bringing more water down the mountain to Tulare County.

This week’s forecast shows 95 degrees or above every day and a high of 105 for a number of them. Bakersfield, Fresno and Visalia could all match or set new record warm night-time temperature records. The first heat wave of 2024 hit inland California last week, and a spell of exceptionally warm nights.

That will bring down the snowpack in a hurry in the Sierra over the next two weeks with our dams already at capacity. The Sierras stored more water in snowpack than anticipated meaning the Friant-Kern Canal will receive uncontrolled spill from Friant Dam weeks longer than expected. That has led to a 5% surplus of Class II water supply adding to its 100% of contracted or Class I water supply.

High flows raging down the Kaweah and Kings Rivers this month will offer the best chance for river rafting in a while, with at least three suppliers in Three Rivers offering regular rides down the waterway and several along the Kings River watershed as well. The colder and stronger flows will make for exhilarating rafting but will also be more dangerous.

The heat has made it easier to open roads covered in snow. Tioga Road in Yosemite will finally open this summer by 7 a.m. on Monday, June 10 after a huge snowpack was cleared along the key crossing of the Sierra highway.

Gas drop may drive vacation travel

Hotter weather also means vacation season as schools are out and families plan trips through the end of July. Normally more vehicle miles traveled in the summer months means higher fuel prices but that may not be true for all of this summer.

Tulare County gas prices are the lowest in the state, according to the fuel-price tracking website GasBuddy this week. Fastrip in Lindsay is selling regular for $3.79 a gallon and Valero in Linday is $3.80, according to GasBuddy. Gasoline prices nationwide and in California have been dropping rapidly after the start of the Memorial Day driving season, usually when summer prices head higher. The average price for gasoline in California has come down $0.45 since May 8 says AAA. Nationwide the trend is our friend.

“This drop in pump prices appears to have some sticking power for now,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “More states should see their averages dip below $3 a gallon in the coming weeks.”

Today’s national average is $3.48,17 cents less than a month ago and six cents less than a year ago.

Since May 30, these 10 states have seen the largest changes in their averages: Indiana (-17 cents), Alaska (-16 cents), Illinois (-13 cents), Florida (-13 cents), Michigan (-13 cents), Ohio (-13), Kentucky (-13), Nevada (-11), California (-11 cents), and Wisconsin (-10 cents).

The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are Mississippi ($2.98), Arkansas ($3.00), Oklahoma ($3.00), Texas ($3.02), Kansas ($3.06), Louisiana ($3.06), Tennessee ($3.07), Missouri ($3.11), South Carolina ($3.13), and Alabama ($3.15).

At the close of Wednesday’s formal trading session, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil rose by 82 cents to settle at $74.07 a barrel. WTI is a benchmark used in the oil industry and commodities trading to represent the price of US oil. Last Thursday, the price was $77.91. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that crude oil inventories increased by 1.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 455.9 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are about 4% below the five-year average for this time of year.

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