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Stories from the valley

Extreme Water this Spring

Contributed by Tim Johnson

For those of us who live in the Sierra Foothills, we pay the most attention to the rivers when the dogwoods are blooming and we have a fly rod in our hand or a kayak on the rack. Spring is the time of year we watch the rivers the closest. This year looks to be every bit as impressive for us as the winter flooding was for the Sacramento Valley.

As the sun comes out, many are heading into the outdoors and will see first–hand just how high the rivers are. The waters are well past their normal banks and ‘up into the trees’ as folks like to say.

The water is also cold – numbingly so.

It is of course the record snow pack that is creating these conditions. In the Northern part of the state, it is the wettest year on record. Even more impressive, we have received more than five times the amount of rain than the driest year on record. Given impressive depths of 15 feet at the top of the mountain at Heavenly at the end of April, it looks like the rivers and creeks will stay high and cold for a good portion of the summer.

For those who cast a fly – it will be months before we can get on the water. Kayaking will be the domain of the hardcore who will revel in the whitewater. Summer picnics at lakes and hiking trips will all be in the stetting of overflowing alpine lakes and swollen streams.

As you get out this summer, remember this year’s record rain and snow are still every bit a part of our daily lives, as when the bypasses were shunting water around the city of Sacramento.