Tag Archives: drought 2015

December 1st Water Numbers

Eastern Sierra December 1st Water Numbers

By Arnie Palu

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has released the Eastern Sierra Precipitation Conditions report for December 1st. Numbers are certainly stronger then last year, but also show that the predicted “Godzilla El Nino” is yet to deliver. The December 1st report looks at both snow pillows and precipitation. Overall the snow numbers are behind schedule for the average year, with the precipitation numbers right on track with the long term average. Last year, the 2014-2015 water year,  was the driest year on record.

Snow Pillows

Mammoth Pass
The DWP snow survey is showing Mammoth Pass is currently holding 5.2 inches of water. That’s good for 64% of the normal amount for the date, or just 12% of the year end total for the average year.
Gem Pass
Gem Pass is holding 3.0 inches of water, 39% of the normal amount for the date and just 9% of the year end total.
Rock Creek
Rock Creek is showing 3.0 inches of water, ahead of schedule with 101% of the normal amount for December 1st, and 20% of the year end total.
South Lake
The snow survey at South Lake is showing just .9 inches of water, 24% of the normal amount found on December 1st, and just 6% of the year end total.
Big Pine Creek
The numbers show just 1.0 inch of water in the snow pillow at Big Pine Creek, just 29% of the average December 1st total, and only 5% of the year end total.
Cottonwood Lakes
The strongest numbers are from Cottonwood Lakes in southern Inyo County where 2.8 inches of water in the snow pack has the site slightly ahead of schedule. Cottonwood Lakes is at 116% of the normal amount for December 1st, and at 21% of the year end total.

Precipitation

Overall precipitation numbers are right on line with the long term average. The precipitation totals are cumulative for the water year beginning October 1st.
Mono County’s Cain Ranch, 1.69 inches, 87% of normal to date, 16% of year end total.
Long Valley, 1.49 inches, 105% of normal to date, 14% for the year.
Bishop, .88 inches, 104% of the normal for the date, 13% for the year.
Big Pine, 1.36 inches, 99% for the date, 14% for the year.
Independence, .87 inches, 108% for the date, 16% for the year.
South Haiwee, 1.19 inches, 130% for the date, 16% for the year.
Los Angeles, 1.16 inches, 54% for the date, 7% for the year.

cover photo by Gary Young

drought 2015, ladwp snowpack report, eastern sierra precipitation conditions

Officials defend Rough Fire efforts

Rough Fire now over 151 thousand Acres

Top land managers are offering a Op/Ed defending and explaining the response to the Rough Fire.  The fire is now over 151 thousand acres and listed at 87% perimeter containment.  The lighting caused fire started on July 31st.   The forest supervisors and superintendent felt there was a need to clarify some common misconceptions about the Rough Fire.

The Rough Fire: The fire that continually defied suppression efforts.

We want to recognize the residents of east-side communities who lived with smoke from the Rough Fire for many weeks and we thank you for your patience while numerous valiant efforts to contain the fire were made.

We also understand that smoke affects one of the primary attractions of the east-side, which is the broad spectrum of recreational opportunities that people from throughout the world come to experience.

However we must dispute several sentiments shared with various east-side media outlets that suggest that this fire was a managed-lightning fire for resource benefit.

In particular, we must refute the idea that our firefighters did not do enough or that we, as land managers, underestimated this fire in initial attack and over the following weeks.

Allow us to share with you of the nature of the fire response.

When lightning ignited seven fires on the Sierra National Forest on July 31st, firefighters quickly contained all but one and fire managers suspected that one was going to be a problem.

Kings Canyon Drainage is known for its stunning beauty because of its dramatic steep cliffs that draw visitors from the world to enjoy this stunning scenery. It is also documented as the largest unbroken vertical rise in North America.

To a firefighter, it’s a no man’s land: steep, technical terrain that has been known for injuring firefighters over the years. It’s so steep that “rollouts” (burning material that gets loosened, rolls down the steep slope, and runs back up the hill) are a constant concern for fire crews. In fact, it is exactly how the fire progressed down the canyon. Aircraft and firefighters themselves can sometimes push the rollouts on these cliffs.

These conditions make it impossible to establish an anchor point for a firefighter to start a containment line. It’s not terrain that firefighters can safely engage a fire.

Add the fourth year of a drought. Add that this was ground zero for the worst die off of trees seen in the southern Sierra. Earlier this year, the U.S. Forest Service reported that 12 million trees had died in the southern Sierra Nevada, with areas along the Kings Canyon River Drainage hardest hit. Driving along the river drainage, you will see areas with up to 60% tree mortality. This area had missed several fire cycles, meaning there was a thick bed of dried fuels mixed with dead trees. Add continuous days of 100 degree (or more) temperatures.

Firefighters think about weather, fuel, and topography when trying to access fire behavior. The Rough Fire presented the worst of all three.   When fire managers added this all up, they knew they had a challenging fire to deal with. Never for a moment, and contrary to rumors, did fire managers ever consider anything but full suppression.  The problem was how. It was assessed by crews on the ground and by air, they reported the terrain too steep and that direct attack was not an option for safety reasons.

Aircraft cannot do it alone. Helicopters and tankers can slow the fire’s growth and reduce its intensity, but firefighters need to construct the containment line to stop the fire’s growth.
Once the fire became established, crew after crew of firefighters reported that they had never seen fire behavior like they were witnessing. It crossed dozer lines, roads, and rivers with incredible ease.

Firefighters found themselves working to defend Cedar Grove, Hume Lake, Grant Grove Village and Wilsonia, Balch Camp, communities near Wishon, the PG&E Power Plant, and Dunlap.
As the Rough Fire approached the sequoia groves of Giant Sequoia National Monument and in Kings Canyon National Park, firefighters worked to get the best fire effects possible. Giant sequoias are fire-adapted and germinate with the heat surge from the fire than opens the cones in the tree and releases the seeds to the nutrient-rich ash bed below—the catch was ensuring that this fire wasn’t too intense even for the sequoias.

Some of these communities experienced air that ranged from unhealthy to hazardous. Grant Grove Village and Wilsonia were evacuated first for smoke and remained evacuated for fire.
Numerous crews, including those on initial attack, made every effort they could to contain this fire. Many crews have been away from loved ones for most of the summer responding to fires throughout the west, many of which have also grown larger than historically seen and displaying unprecedented fire behavior. We are particularly grateful that, to date, our firefighters will make it home to their families and loved ones. One injury, in particular, reminded us how complex this terrain is; with the rescue being conducted by a roped-in technical rescue team.

So, we thank you for your patience and we recognize that you too have been affected by this fire. We also hope you will also take a moment to be grateful to all the dedicated men and women who worked tirelessly this summer to protect our communities and our infrastructure.

Dean Gould, Forest Supervisor of Sierra National Forest.
Kevin Elliott,  Forest Supervisor of Giant Sequoia National Monument/Sequoia National Forest.
Woody Smeck, Superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

rough fire, drought 2015, sierra national forest, sequoia national monument, kings canyon national park

El Nino Information

El Niño, what it means for the sierra

The National weather service Reno office has produced a El Niño forecast 2015, Sierra Edition.  The forecast addresses myths and conspiracy theories while also predicting what the system could mean for the western US.

From the National Weather Service, Reno:

Common Myths and Conspiracy Theories

Let’s just get the myths and conspiracy theories out of the way first!

El Niño will bring us a big snow winter. Not guaranteed. We’ve had dry and/or warm El Niño winters too.

El Niño will end the drought. No, it will take more than one wet winter to end our four-year drought.

We’re in a drought, so no worries about flooding. No, droughts in Cal/Nev have ended with (big) floods.

An 8-Ball or dice are used for these seasonal forecasts, right? No, while seasonal weather prediction lags behind the skill of a 7-day weather forecast, sophisticated science and computer simulations are used

What Does El Niño Mean for Us?

Warm waters of El Niño drive changes in the wintertime storm track into North America, favoring Southern California and southern Nevada with above normal precipitation.

Overall, El Niño has very little relationship with wintertime precipitation in the Sierra and western Nevada. Since the 1930s, we’ve had 6 strong El Niño winters – some have been dry and some have been wet. The two strongest were quite wet.

The official forecast for this coming winter slightly favors above normal precipitation for the Sierra, with more precipitation in mid/late winter. With the strong El Niño in place, the risk of another dry winter is less, but not zero.

Warm waters off the west coast coupled with the long term atmospheric warming trends could result in an increased frequency of warm storms with high snow levels. Although some past El Niño winters have been cold as well.

“Overall based on all the simulations of El Niño and the atmosphere – the scales are tipped toward favoring an above normal precipitation winter for the central/northern Sierra and western Nevada. However it’s not guaranteed and much of the impacts could wait until mid/late winter. The risks of seeing another dry winter are lower with this strong El Niño, so that’s certainly good news.”  Chris Smallcomb, National Weather Service,  Reno.Warning Coordination Meteorologist

noaa 1
Precip Outlook for Oct-Nov-Dec. EC = no favored outcome Brown = favors below normal Green = favors above normal darker shading = higher confidence
noaa 2
Precip Outlook for January-February-March. EC = no favored outcome Brown = favors below normal Green = favors above normal darker shading = higher confidence
national weather service reno, el nino 2015, sierra snow pack, drought 2015

Inyo Expands Fire Restrictions

Inyo National Forest Announces Further Fire Restriction

The Inyo National Forest is extending fire restrictions to include all Wilderness Areas of the Inyo National Forest.  Previously, campfires were allowed in the  Hoover, John Muir, Ansel Adams, Boundary Peak, White Mountains, Golden Trout, and South Sierra Wilderness Areas of the Inyo National Forest. These areas are no longer exempt from fire restrictions.

“Ongoing drought conditions and well below average rain and snowfall this past winter have led to very dry conditions for this time of year,” said Inyo National Forest Supervisor, Ed Armenta. “These conditions can and have created an active fire season here in the Eastern Sierra and throughout California.”

Beginning September 11, 2015 and until further notice, the following restrictions will be in effect:

NO CAMPFIRES, briquette barbeques, or stove fires are allowed outside of designated developed recreation sites and specifically posted campsites or areas. A list of designated campgrounds and recreation sites is available at local Ranger Stations and Visitor Centers, and on the Inyo National Forest website, www.fs.usda.gov/inyo.

Persons with a valid California Campfire Permit (available free of charge at any Ranger Station or Visitor Center) are not exempt from the prohibitions but are allowed to use portable stoves or lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel.

NO FIREWORKS. It is prohibited to possess or discharge any fireworks.

NO SMOKING, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

NO WELDING or operating an acetylene torch with open flames, except by permit.

NO USE OF EXPLOSIVES, except by permit.

Resorts, pack stations, recreation residences and other sites operated under special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service  may be exempt from the special orders, as long as any fire activity is conducted in compliance with their permit. Special use permit holders should contact their permit administrator to make sure they are on the list of exempt sites, or check the information for special use permit exemptions on the Inyo National Forest Website, www.fs.usda.gov/inyo.

us forest service, inyo national forest, drought 2015, campfire restrictions

Walker Fire Update

Thursday Walker Fire Update

Significant progress continues with containment lines on Walker Fire burning approximately two miles southwest of Lee Vining the Walker Fire remains at 3,715 acres. This is a human-caused fire that is still under investigation.

Crews will continue to improve containment lines as well as mop up, which includes extinguishing hot spots to ensure that the fire does not re-ignite. Mitigation efforts also continue on the 65-acre spot fire.

Tioga Pass (Highway120) is open without an escort. However, there will be no stopping along the eastern four miles of the road. This will be strictly enforced. The fire remains active to the south of the road and this is essential for firefighter and public safety.

The fire is burning in mixed conifer, mahogany, and brush. Critical sage grouse habitat is also threatened. Visitors and residents should expect to see smoke from the June Lake and Lee Vining areas and along Highway 395.

For the safety of our firefighters, effective air operations and continued containment efforts, please keep drones away from the Walker Fire and near heliports.

Closures and Evacuations:
⦁ Walker Lake “Fishing Camp” has been evacuated.
A CodeRed Emergency Alert notice has been issued for Lee Vining and everything north of Double Eagle in June Lake (including Silver Lake and Grant Lake areas) for potential evacuations.
⦁ Campgrounds in the Lower Lee Vining Canyon have been evacuated and are closed, including Lower Lee Vining, Moraine, Boulder, Aspen Grove, and Big Bend Campgrounds.
⦁ The Walker Lake Road (1N17), the Parker Lake Rd. (1S25), the Upper Horse Meadows Rd. (1N16), and the Gibbs Road (1N18) are closed for fire operations and public safety. All of these roads are accessed via the northern end of the June Lake Loop. All spur roads off of these roads are also closed. The trail to Mono Pass (trailhead is at Walker Lake) is closed.

Approximately 477 firefighters are on scene as well as numerous aircraft, dozers, and engines. Resources from Mono County, local fire departments, Cal Fire, neighboring forests, BLM Bishop Field Office, and the Mono County Sheriff’s Office are assigned.  For more information on the Walker Fire you can go to the following sites: Inciweb: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4515/

Date Started: 8/14/2015
Cause: Human Total Personnel: 477
Injuries/Illnesses to Date: 0
Size: 3,715 acres Structures Threatened: 235
Percent Contained: 45%
Resources: 3 Helicopters, 0 Seats, 0 Air Tankers
34, Engines Crews, 6 Water Tenders, 2 Dozers Structures Lost: 0
Estimated Containment: 8/23/2015

walker fire, drought 2015, cal fire, us forest service, mono county

Fire Map for Wednesday, August 19

California Wildfire map for Wednesday, August 19

Firefighters statewide are battling fires throughout the state of California.  Locally the Rough fire in Fresno County is producing smoke in the Eastern Sierra and is now threatening structures near Hume Lake.  The Walker fire near Lee Vining is now 35% contained and the Eagle 2 fire near Bridgeport is holding at 120 acres.

 

fire wed

california wildfires, drought 2015, walker fire, rough fire, eagle 2 fire

State offering Turf and Toilet Rebates

State offering #30 Million in Rebates

California Department of Water Resources:

State Announces $30 Million in Rebates To Help Replace Old Toilets and Turf
Consumer Rebates Will Help Save Millions of Gallons of Water During Historic Drought

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced two new rebate programs to help Californians replace inefficient toilets and tear out water-guzzling lawns, further conserving water during the state’s historic drought.
The “turf and toilet” rebate program is financed by the Proposition 1 water bond approved by voters in 2014. The program will help carry out Governor Brown’s April 1 Executive Order on drought to further reduce water use in homes by replacing more than 10 million square-feet of lawn and upgrading more than 60,000 water-wasting toilets.

DWR will oversee the two rebate programs, which provide a $100 consumer rebate to replace one old toilet per household and up to $2 per square foot for lawn replacement. Californians can visit www.SaveOurWaterRebates.com to apply for the rebates.
With $24 million in Proposition 1 funding, the turf replacement program will rebate $2 per square foot of turf replaced, up to $2,000 per household through state or local turf replacement programs. Consumers are eligible to replace turf that is living or dead at the time of the rebate application. (Bare earth areas with no sign of turf are not eligible for a rebate.)

The turf rebate program is estimated to benefit more than 10,000 homes, with a focus on disadvantaged communities hardest hit by the drought. $12 million of the lawn removal funds is targeted for residents in disadvantaged communities in areas with depleted groundwater basins. The turf program will be monitored by DWR and administered by the Electric & Gas Industries Association (EGIA).

The $6 million toilet rebate program, also funded through Proposition 1, will help Californians replace approximately 60,000 old, inefficient toilets by offering a $100 customer rebate per household to replace with a high-efficiency toilet.
California has been dealing with the effects of drought for four years. To learn about all the actions the state has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.Gov. Every Californian should take steps to conserve water; find out how at SaveOurWater.com.

drought 2015, california department of water resources, dwr

Walker Fire, Tuesday Morning Update

Walker Fire 20% contained

Quick Facts
size: 3,613 acres.
containment: 20%.
estimated full contianment: Sunday, 8/23/15.
cause: Human…under investigation.
location: 2 miles southwest of Lee Vining.

total personnel: 471.  From the US Forest Service:

Lee Vining, CA: The Walker Fire is currently burning approximately two miles southwest of Lee Vining. This is a human-caused fire that is still under investigation.
Crews held the fire last night and continue to improve containment lines.Crews will continue to maintain and strengthen the fire line today as well as mopping up the 65-acre hot spot.
Due to more accurate mapping, the fire size is now at 3,613 acres.
Tioga Pass (Highway120) is open without an escort. However, there will no stopping along the eastern six miles of the road. This will be strictly enforced. The fire remains active to the south of the road and this is essential for firefighter and public safety.
The fire is burning in mixed conifer, mahogany, and brush. Critical sage grouse habitat is also threatened. Visitors and residents should expect to see smoke from the June Lake and Lee Vining areas and along Highway 395.

Closures and Evacuations:
⦁    Walker Lake “Fishing Camp” has been evacuated.
⦁    A CodeRed Emergency Alert notice has been issued for Lee Vining and everything north of Double Eagle in June Lake (including Silver Lake and Grant Lake areas) for potential evacuations.
⦁    Campgrounds in the Lower Lee Vining Canyon have been evacuated and are closed, including Lower Lee Vining, Moraine, Boulder, Aspen Grove, and Big Bend Campgrounds.
⦁    The Walker Lake Road (1N17), the Parker Lake Rd. (1S25), the Upper Horse Meadows Rd. (1N16), and the Gibbs Road (1N18) are closed for fire operations and public safety. All of these roads are accessed via the northern end of the June Lake Loop. All spur roads off of these roads are also closed. The trail to Mono Pass (trailhead is at Walker Lake) is closed.

Approximately 471 firefighters are on scene as well as numerous aircraft, dozers, and engines. Resources from Mono County, local fire departments, Cal Fire, neighboring forests, BLM Bishop Field Office, and the Mono County Sheriff’s Office are assigned.  For more information on the Walker Fire you can got to the following sites: Inciweb: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4515/

walker fire, eastern sierra news, drought 2015, us forest service, mono county news

Walker Fire

Walker Fire Update

A Monday Morning update is due soon, here is the Sunday evening information on the Walker fire burning south of Lee Vining.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

From the US Forest services Sunday PM update:

The Walker Fire is estimated to be 2,200 acres and is 10% contained. The fire is northeast of Walker Lake and west of Lee Vining Canyon.

Update: Additional fire crews arrived Sunday. Fire crews made good progress on line construction Sunday on the west, south, and eastern flanks, supported by air operations. However, the northern flank showed active fire behavior Sunday afternoon and evening and led to further evacuations in Lee Vining Canyon (upper canyon campgrounds). Crews will continue to strengthen firelines tonight, focusing on the northern flank. Active fire behavior is expected Sunday night with low night-time relative humidity recovery.

Nate Rasner’s Type 3 Sierra Front team arrived Sunday and was briefed on the Walker Fire. They assume command of the fire Monday morning at 6:00 am. The team will have a fire information line, 760-647-6472, to handle public and media inquiries.

Closures and Evacuations:

·         Walker Lake “Fishing Camp” has been evacuated.

·         A CodeRed Emergency Alert notice has been issued for Lee Vining and everything north of Double Eagle in June Lake (including Silver Lake and Grant Lake areas) for potential evacuations.

·         Campgrounds in the entire Lee Vining Canyon have been evacuated and are closed, including Lower Lee Vining, Moraine, Boulder, Aspen Grove, Big Bend, Junction, Ellery Lake, Tioga Lake Campground, Sawmill, and Saddlebag Campgrounds.

·         The Tioga Pass and Saddlebag Resorts are under an evacuation advisory.

·         The Walker Lake Road (1N17), the Parker Lake Rd. (1S25), the Upper Horse Meadows Rd. (1N16), and the Gibbs Road (1N18) are closed for fire operations and public safety. All of these roads are accessed via the northern end of the June Lake Loop. All spur roads off of these roads are also closed. The trail to Mono Pass (trailhead is at Walker Lake) is closed.

·         The Lee Vining area is becoming a center of fire operations and it is suggested that visitors should avoid this area.

The fire is burning is mixed conifer, mahogany, and brush. Critical sage grouse habitat is also threatened. Visitors and residents should expect to see smoke from the June Lake and Lee Vining area and along Highway 395.

Approximately 350 firefighters are on scene as well as numerous aircraft, dozers, and engines. Resources from Mono County, local fire departments, Cal Fire, neighboring forests BLM Bishop Field Office, and the Mono County Sheriff’s Office are assigned.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.

walker fire, lee vining, june lake, drought 2015