South Coast Ridges Get Nearly a Foot of Rain: Rivers Slow to React

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The dry bed of the Nacimiento River has finally gotten a rinse

As is so often the case in major storms, Mining Ridge, above Big Creek on Big Sur’s South Coast, has logged the highest rain total (11.98 inches for the past five days) of any spot in the San Francisco Bay area. Normally, rain of this magnitude would result in very high flows on the Nacimiento and San Antonio Rivers. But these aren’t normal times. Thanks to the extremely dry conditions, most of the rain simply soaked into the ground.

The Nacimiento and San Antonio rivers remained dry at the gauging stations above the reservoirs throughout the storms and it was starting to look like neither lake was going to receive any runoff at all. At midnight last night, however, a flash flood that peaked at around 1,000 cubic feet per second reached the Nacimiento Gauge, and is now flowing into Lake Nacimiento.

While this isn’t going to change the dire situation at the Lake in a significant way, we can at least hope it proves a harbinger of better things to come. Which is important, since Lake Nacimiento is currently at only 16% of capacity and Lake San Antonio is essentially dry at 3% capacity.

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