Warm weather, lack of rain in Bay Area worries water officials

Very warm weather and lack of any rain in the future has Bay Area water officials more than a little nervous at this time.
December 26, 2013 8:06:02 PM PST
We've had beautiful weather around the Bay Area, but the lack of rainfall this winter could spell trouble for the region's water supply. If the area continues to go without rainfall, there will be a crisis.

The Sierra snow-pack is only 35 percent of normal for this time of year. Look around up there and you can see a lot of bare ground. Folsom Lake near Sacramento is 20 percent of capacity and should not look more than half empty. It's the same scene at reservoirs in the North Bay -- they're at 58-percent capacity, but still far too much dirt showing.

Last December there was so much rainwater reservoirs near Mount Tamalpais were full to capacity and even spilling over. One year later, the driest December on record has taken its toll. Nicasio Reservoir in West Marin looks more like a desert. Clamshells which used to be underwater are high and dry.

"This calendar year we're on pace to set a new record for calendar year rainfall -- the lowest rainfall since 1929," said Mike Ban from the Marin Municipal Water Department.

Ban says Marin customers are being asked to conserve water. Most reservoirs are at about 80 percent of normal, which is not a crisis... yet.

"If we don't get any rainfall between now and April, we'll be at less than 45,000-acre-feet of water in storage," said Ban.

That would be bad and could trigger mandatory water restrictions not seen since the early 1990's.

The weather has been so warm cafes are opening outdoor patios and shorts and T-shirts the dress code.

We asked Whitney Halborsen of Sausalito, "Are you wearing sunscreen today?" and she replied, "You know, I'm not. I probably should put some on. That's a good idea."

Erika Ducati of Sausalito said, "We're supposed to go to Tahoe next week so we would like some rain so we can have some snow and possibly not feel guilty about taking showers."

Sierra ski resorts are trying to make enough snow to stay open for holiday skiers.

Steven Hemphill from Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort said, "We have supplemental snowmaking, we've had to revert to some old things such as farming snow, taking some snow from runs to fill in areas."

Ski resorts are hopeful winter will return soon.


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