As California braces for an additional highly effective atmospheric river storm on Sunday, Tulare Lake continues to remind guests of the highly effective penalties these excessive storms can have.
Floodwaters within the lake, which fashioned after a few dozen atmospheric river storms hit California in 2023, are nonetheless stretching throughout hundreds of acres of premier farmland greater than 9 months after the resurrection of the “ghost lake,” as some took to calling it.
This summer time, the lake’s stagnant waters turned a hotspot for wild birds and triggered an outbreak of avian botulism that forced wildlife officials to patrol on airboats daily and collect hundreds of dead birds. Flooded autos and telecommunications tools had been submerged alongside the underside of the lake mattress, and farm operators couldn’t entry their fields.
The lake’s continued presence on this nook of the Central Valley highlights how the environmental impacts of final yr’s excessive rainfall are nonetheless reverberating throughout California. Storms this weekend might convey excessive precipitation to different components of the state, however most flood impacts aren’t anticipated to linger as lengthy.
At the moment, the Tulare Lake is shrinking quickly, even amid current rainfall. As of Thursday, water lined about 4,532 acres of farmland, in keeping with Justin Caporusso, who handles public relations for Kings County, the place the floodwaters settled. Which means the lake is lower than 1/20 of its peak dimension final yr, and life is approaching regular for these residing close by.
Sgt. Nate Ferrier, of the Kings County Sheriff’s Division, who visited the lake in late January, stated most of it has been cleaned up.
“The farming group was already again to life,” he stated. “There have been tractors in all places.”
Greater than a century in the past, the lake was a pure function of the southern San Joaquin Valley earlier than settlers dug irrigation ditches to reroute water and drain the panorama for farming. Final yr, floodwaters crammed the Tulare Basin as a result of reservoirs couldn’t deal with intense snowmelt runoff from the Sierra Nevada after a sequence of storms.
This week’s atmospheric river storms — that are to be punctuated by a major storm Sunday — are unlikely to have a lot influence on the Tulare Lake, Caporusso stated in an e mail. Reservoirs upstream of the lake have the capability to deal with the precipitation, and the California Division of Water Sources discovered that the southern Sierra has about 45% as much snow as it normally does this time of yr.