FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Friday, Fresno County lifted many evacuation warnings, as flood concerned lessened in some areas.
Now the focus has shifted towards what might happen in the weeks and months to come.
“Pine Flat holds one-million-acre feet of water. Currently it’s at about 800,000-acre feet. With the anticipated snow melt, we will let water out, and effectively have filled Pine Flat three times,” said Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni.
The snow melt is still a concern in the short-term, but things will get worse before they get better. As of Friday, Pine Flat, Friant Dam, and Mill Creek were releasing 9,000 cubic feet of water per second, In May, that’s expected to jump to 12,000 cubic feet per second.
Pine Flat will likely get to 13,000 cubic feet per second by June. To put that in perspective, just 940 cubic feet of water will fill an average swimming pool.
“(It’s) going to cause unstable shorelines, muddy areas, things that are going to break away. You’re going to see water levels high up to the top of where there’s bridges and crossings over the river,” said Sheriff Zanoni.
The county is most concerned about places, like Firebaugh and Mendota along the San Joaquin, as well as areas by Coalinga off the Kings River.
“It’s really gonna be an ongoing battle, so we’re just gonna be constantly assessing. We’re flying the rivers, we’re flying the waterways almost daily now and I think these flow meters will give us a little bit of a heads up as far as things happen,” said Lt. Brandon Pursell with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
The county has continued to make preparations, crews have filled sandbags to place strategically, they continue to look at erosion areas, and have prepped crews, to try and stay ahead of the curve.
“We are working directly with engineers to what we can to in advanced planning to make us in the best position to protect Fresno County,” said Terri Mejorado, Fresno County’s emergency manager.
As of Friday, all county rivers are closed for recreation until further notice.
Sheriff Zanoni said it’s simply too dangerous for anyone to even get close to them.
For up-to-date emergency resources in Fresno County, click here.