With the spring sun warming the entirety of California, UCLA climatologist Daniel Swain predicted Thursday that the “big melt” will arrive this weekend.
“Flows on many rivers draining the central/southern Sierra will double or triple (with locally greater increases) as temperatures rise. Some rivers will exceed flood stage, & Tulare Basin flooding will worsen,” Swain tweeted.
The Big Melt is now officially arriving…this weekend. Flows on many rivers draining the central/southern Sierra will double or triple (with locally greater increases) as temperatures rise. Some rivers will exceed flood stage, & Tulare Basin flooding will worsen. #CAwater #CAwx https://t.co/z2VMemjVpw
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) April 20, 2023
Indeed, Valley residents near re-emerging Tulare Lake, as well as those living near the Kings, Tule, Kern, Merced, and San Joaquin rivers, are keeping a close eye on the water line. Some of them have already suffered the consequences of March flooding.
Lake Tulare in California continues to grow rapidly and is now over 100 square miles in size.
That’s just over half the size of Lake Tahoe, and the big snowmelt hasn’t even started yet in the Sierra Nevada. pic.twitter.com/C9Mxf14B7m
— Colin McCarthy (@US_Stormwatch) April 20, 2023
Hope they don’t run into any gators… https://t.co/raxkSgXUV7
— SJV Water (@SJVWater) April 20, 2023
But a forecast issued Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offers hope that the melt of California’s historic snowpack will be gradual. If it is, not only would communities be spared from harm, but water supplies could carry over to 2024.
NOAA said that May temperatures in much of California are likely to be cooler than normal, and June-July temps are expected to be in line with historical norms.
In addition, Andrew Schwartz, lead scientist at UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, told The New York Times: “The picture is relatively optimistic compared to what it could be. We’re not seeing any very warm periods that would cause concern to us yet. And the hope is that when we do see those — or if we do see those — that they will be later in the season, when the snowpack isn’t quite as large.”
Picture Perfect Fresno Forecast
Flood risks aside, the weekend forecast for Fresno and surrounding communities is postcard perfect.
The National Weather Service in Hanford predicts mostly sunny skies with a high of 83 on Saturday and Sunday. Lows are expected in the mid-50s.
The warmup will continue next week with predicted highs of 88 on Wednesday and possibly 90 on Thursday.
2022 vs. 2023 Sierra Snowpack Comparison