Santa Barbara County moves up a notch in drought designation
“It looks like we could be returning to a wet period around the middle of next week,” said John Lindsey, meteorologist for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. at Diablo Canyon Power Plant.
Lindsey said the “long-range numerical models continue to indicate a wet weather pattern developing” Tuesday and continuing for as long as a week.
At this point, runoff into the lake has slowed, with the soil starting to soak up water in the creeks and Gibraltar Reservoir finally dropping a couple of inches below the spillway level to 99.8 percent of its 5,272-acre-foot capacity.
“But I can tell the level has come up just since I was here a couple of days ago.” Near the first of October 2016, Cachuma had fallen to just 7.3 percent of its 193,305-acre-foot capacity at 14,177 acre-feet.
An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, or enough to meet the average yearly water needs of about six people in most urban settings.
“If it wasn’t for the state water, I think the lake would have dried up three years ago,” Skytt said.
But once the rains started, the lake began to fill with increasing speed, rising to 13.6 percent of capacity by Feb. 6 and climbing to 18 percent in about a week, then jumping to 43.3 percent a week after that.
In fact, the level had risen high enough for boaters to use a launch ramp that has been high and dry for a couple of years.
Twitchell Reservoir northeast of Santa Maria is lagging the most among the county’s reservoirs, currently holding 70,351 acre-feet, or 36.1 percent of its 194,971-acre-foot capacity, although that represents an increase of 70,350 acre-feet for the water year.
Countywide, rainfall for the current water year was standing at 156 percent of the normal amount for March 13, according to figures from the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District.