|Salmon Falls Bridge above Folsom Lake in February...
|...and on the water near the same spot last August
NorCal Yak checked in with a couple of veteran state water experts to get some tips for paddlers. Maury Roos, chief hydrologist with the California Department of Water Resources, has watched ebb and flow for more than 50 years. Even if we get some late precip, 2012 could rival some dry years dating back at least a decade, Roos said. At the same time, “Statewide water storage still stands at 110 percent of average, thanks to carry-over.”
Roos suggested that paddlers might focus on “natural flow” (undammed) waters – such as Lake Tahoe. It’s still about two-thirds full, about 148 percent of average, and should be in good shape this season, he said. Plus Tahoe runoff will help the Truckee River. (See NorCal Yak posts on Lake Tahoe.)
Another veteran state hydrologist, Earle Cummings, paddles a canoe. “I live close to Lake Sonoma, so I follow the Russian (River) pretty closely, and with both reservoirs in the system having good carry-over storage, it will be good for the summer, but it won't be very exciting for kayakers.” After consulting some flow data, Cummings suggested heading up north to places like Del Norte County and the Smith River – “Put in at or around Dr. Fine Bridge. Beautiful water…almost normal seasonal flow.” (At one point in January, the Smith rose to less than a foot below flood stage -- another reason to always do your homework, even in a "dry" year. August and September are said to be good months for paddling on the Smith.)
|Rat Rock at China Camp State Park, on San Pablo Bay
Mild winter weather has also made coastal paddling attractive this year – check NorCal Yak posts on Monterey, and Elkhorn Slough, as well as Tomales Bay, Sausalito and China Camp State Park.