Officials are urging residents to take precautions as the packed snow expected to melt in the upcoming weeks could cause potential floods. The Department of Water Resources has stated that this past winter, California saw a record level of snowpacks. Snowpacks are the impacted areas of snow in mountainous areas that persist and stay intact until warmer weather emerges. This upcoming spring and summer are predicted to bring that warm weather, leading to the fast meltation and therefore rush of ultra-cold water into nearby rivers and streams. The DWR tells residents to stay hyper-aware of rivers, lakes, and other water bodies, as currents can fluctuate in levels and force.
In previously stated news, the increase in forceful atmospheric rivers plummeting the coast of California is the cause of these record-breaking snowpacks and river levels that have not been seen in years. California's statewide average water in snow equivalent has surged almost 62% since the beginning of April, which is 237% above average for this early into the spring season. The years 1956, 1969, and 1983 were the last years that the percentage exceeded 200.
The extensive storms have already flooded many communities and counties across Southern California. This has led President Biden, on April 3rd, to declare a disaster declaration for those several counties affected. Unfortunately, the DWR predicts that due to the extended and expansive nature of the snowpacks, there will be severe floods in certain counties that fall within the location of these mountains, such as the San Joaquin Valley.
“Rising water levels in rivers and streams will be very cold, very fast, and can easily overwhelm those that aren’t prepared or don’t heed warnings,” warned CAL FIRE Chief Joe Tyler.
There have been many statements made public by weather experts, California State Parks officials, and the local fire departments urging residents to stay away from the quickening water currents. California State Parks Director Armando Quintero has stressed the importance of adhering to the local warnings and public safety protocols refraining from entering any waterway that has been prohibited.
“As the temperature rises, snowmelt-fed waterways can quickly induce incapacitating cold-water shock to even the strongest swimmers,” added Quintero.