FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – With communities and counties throughout the valley already under several feet of water from unprecedented flooding from rain and snow this winter, officials at the National Weather Service say warming temperatures could make a dangerous situation even worse.
“An enormous amount of water is up there more water equivalent than we’ve seen before we’ve been taking records of the snow water equivalent for decades the last time we saw anything like this was 1982 to 1983,” said Andy Boolenbacher.
He says temperatures over the next several weeks will determine how fast the more than 200 percent snowpack will melt.
The faster the snow melts in the mountains, the more likely that water will flood communities below.
“If it’s warm throughout the valley some of those temperatures are 80 to 85 in the month of April and some of those temperatures in the higher elevations are in the sixties that can start to ripen the snow and warm it up quite a bit … the warmer that snowpack is going into may will really dictate what the snow melts going to look like,” said Bollenbacher.
Pine Flat and Friant dams are releasing thousands of cubic feet per second to make more room for the expected water runoff.
“Pine flat holds one million acre-feet of water currently it at about 800,000 acre-feet with anticipated snow melt we will let water out and effectively fill pine flat over three times,” said Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni.
While overflowing rivers and streams have caused major flooding and damage to surrounding homes.
The National Weather Service says the high water levels could actually change the shape of waterways throughout the valley.
“When you have high flowing rivers that can actually change some of the dynamics sometimes soil and dirt can be transferred… that can actually change the shape and dynamics of how that river flows,” said Bollenbacher.