Update: Tuolumne is 6 inches from flood stage, but not expected to go any higher

·2 min read
Andy Alfaro/aalfaro@modbee.com

An updated forecast Saturday shows the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers staying within their banks even with an upcoming storm.

The National Weather Service expects sunny but cool conditions in the Modesto area through Monday, followed by rain Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Tuolumne was at 54.5 feet above sea level at the Ninth Street Bridge as of 7 a.m. Saturday. Flood stage is 55 feet at this gauging station, part of a state/federal network. The NWS projects that the river will stay around 6 inches below flood stage at least into Thursday morning.

The Tuolumne flow is controlled upstream at Don Pedro Reservoir, which has prevented widespread flooding down below. The river will be high for several months to handle the coming snowmelt, according to the Turlock Irrigation District. It manages Don Pedro in partnership with the Modesto Irrigation District.

The water is unsafe for recreation even if it is not above flood stage, TID said. The same goes for the San Joaquin.

The latter was at 65.5 feet as measured near Newman at 7 a.m. Saturday, 3.9 feet below flood stage. The NWS expects it to stay at its current level into at least Thursday.

As a precaution, an evacuation order went out to the Catfish Camp trailer park on Crows Landing Road.

The Stanislaus River is not close to flood stage, thanks to plenty of unused capacity in New Melones Reservoir.

The next storm could bring up to an inch of rain to Modesto through Wednesday. Up to 30 inches of snow could fall in the central Sierra Nevada, the main watershed for Stanislaus County and several other areas.

The snowpack was at 230% of average for March 24, the California Department of Water Resources said. It could break the record set in 1983 if April and May are wet, too.

Normally, the storm season is about over around April 1, and the pack starts to thaw as the days warm.