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Latest News in Tulare, CA
California’s reappearing phantom lake could remain for two years in the Central Valley
An aerial view of a home (C) surrounded by floodwaters in the reemerging Tulare Lake, in California’s Central Valley, on April 14, 2023 in Corcoran, California.Mario Tama | Getty Images News | Getty ImagesSatellite images taken over the past several weeks show a dramatic resurrection of Tulare Lake in California’s Central Valley and the flooding that could remain for as long as two years across previously arid farmland.The satellite imagery, provided by the Earth imaging company Planet Labs, show the transiti...
An aerial view of a home (C) surrounded by floodwaters in the reemerging Tulare Lake, in California’s Central Valley, on April 14, 2023 in Corcoran, California.
Mario Tama | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Satellite images taken over the past several weeks show a dramatic resurrection of Tulare Lake in California’s Central Valley and the flooding that could remain for as long as two years across previously arid farmland.
The satellite imagery, provided by the Earth imaging company Planet Labs, show the transition from a dry basin to a wide and deep lake running about ten miles from bank to bank on land used to grow almonds, tomatoes, cotton and other crops.
Scientists warn the flooding will worsen as historically huge snowpack from the Sierra Nevada melts and sends more water into the basin. This week, a heat wave could prompt widespread snow melt in the mountains and threaten the small farming communities already dealing with the resurrected Tulare Lake.
The water in the lake bed could trigger billions of dollars in economic losses and displace thousands of farmers and residents in agricultural communities. Continued flooding also threatens levees, dams and other ailing flood infrastructure in the area.
Satellite imagery shows a large swath of farmland before water filled the Tulare Basin.
Satellite images show miles of flooding after California’s Tulare Lake returns.
Tulare Lake was the largest body of freshwater west of the Mississippi River up until the late 1800s, when its tributary rivers were diverted for agricultural irrigation and municipal water uses. As the reformed lake continues to grow larger, farmers worry they will lose entire harvests and their homes will be inundated.
The town of Corcoran in the Central Valley, for instance, has a dirt levee at risk of breaching from rising waters and has requested emergency federal funding to raise the levee by a few feet.
Gov. Gavin Newsom paid a visit to Corcoran this week to assess the flood damage, and said the worst is still to come as the flooded basin sees an additional half-inch or inch of additional water each day. More water could keep flowing for the next 16 weeks.
“We’re working with our federal and local counterparts to provide on-the-ground assistance and the support locals need,” Newsom said. “This weather whiplash is what the climate crisis looks like.”
Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, said the last time there was major flooding in the basin was the 1980s and it took about two years for the water to evaporate or get pumped out. She said the department is coming up with a plan to divert water before it ever arrives at the lake bed.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom surveys Tulare Lake flooding on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, in Corcoran, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP
But more than 600 structures in Tulare County have already been damaged by flooding, according to county officials, and flood damage is still being calculated. Newsom’s office has estimated $60 million in agricultural losses from the flooding of crop fields.
Potential solutions include installing equipment to pump water back into underground aquifers that are dried up from years of drought and overuse of the region’s groundwater.
The state is providing shelter assistance for displaced residents and supplying flood prevention supplies including sandbags, muscle walls and rock and sand to shore up rivers and levees, according to the governor’s office.
Water fills the Tulare Lakebed after floodwaters inundate residents after days of heavy rain in Corcoran, California, U.S., March 29, 2023.
David Swanson | Reuters
California is experiencing an unusually wet season following two decades of drought. A series of atmospheric rivers this year have led to near-record levels of snowpack and rainfall in many areas of the state.
A research team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego found that climate change is intensifying atmospheric river storms and could increase resulting flood damage from $1 billion annually to more than $3 billion annually by end of the century.
Temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley are forecast to reach nearly 100 degrees by this weekend. And Yosemite National Park announced Tuesday that a good deal of the park would close on Friday as melting snowpack threatens floods.
Water fills the Tulare Lakebed after floodwaters inundate residents after days of heavy rain in Corcoran, California, U.S., March 29, 2023.
David Swanson | Reuters
Governor Newsom Surveys Tulare Basin Flooding, Highlights State Support for Ongoing Planning and Response
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Governor Newsom visited the Tulare Basin to see flooding impacts firsthand, meet with community leaders, and emphasize the state’s commitment to supporting and providing appropriate assistance to the counties impacted by recent and anticipated flooding this spring and summer.TULARE BASIN – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom joined state and local officials and community leaders in the Tulare Basin to survey recent flooding brought on by major storms earlier this year and o...
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Governor Newsom visited the Tulare Basin to see flooding impacts firsthand, meet with community leaders, and emphasize the state’s commitment to supporting and providing appropriate assistance to the counties impacted by recent and anticipated flooding this spring and summer.
TULARE BASIN – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom joined state and local officials and community leaders in the Tulare Basin to survey recent flooding brought on by major storms earlier this year and outline actions the state is taking to support the region as it faces long-term flooding. Flooding impacts in the region are expected to worsen in the coming weeks as snowmelt escalates due to higher temperatures in the Sierra Nevada.
The Governor visited several locations in the Tulare Basin to see flooding impacts firsthand, including the Allensworth community center, a project spearheaded by CAL FIRE to raise a critical access road to Alpaugh, and a dairy that has been partially submerged by flood water.
“California is here for the Tulare Basin, the Central Valley and all parts of our state still dealing with the impacts of the historic deluge of atmospheric rivers we experienced and preparing for future flooding due to snowmelt,” said Governor Newsom. “Our focus is keeping these communities safe, and we’re working with our federal and local counterparts to provide on-the-ground assistance and the support locals need. This weather whiplash is what the climate crisis looks like – and that’s why California is investing billions of dollars to protect our communities from weather extremes like flooding, drought and extreme heat.”
State officials have been on the ground since storms first started hitting, supporting and coordinating emergency response. Now, California is shifting focus to flood prevention and recovery efforts and will support local response in the coming weeks, months and years.
The state response to flooding, both in the Tulare Basin and across California, includes:
Today, the state also announced a new flood outreach effort to reach one million Californians in flood-threatened communities. Through Listos California, a program of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the state will mobilize teams of phone-bankers to conduct direct outreach to Californians living in high-risk flood areas in Fresno, Kern, Tulare, Kings, Merced, Madera, Mariposa and San Bernardino counties. Modeled after “Get Out the Vote” efforts, Californians in the target counties will receive information and resources in English, Spanish, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese or Mandarin, depending on their language. The calls will include flood awareness and preparedness information while encouraging residents to sign up for local emergency notifications and offering suggestions on how best to prepare and respond should it be necessary. These direct outreach efforts add to the work of the 90+ CBOs funded by the program.
Last week, Cal OES, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) met with county officials and emergency response personnel in the Tulare Lake Basin to help organize flood response plans to prepare for snowmelt in the coming months.
The state, in partnership with USACE and local entities, is prioritizing snowmelt forecasting, reservoir operations, flooding assessments and flood response support. California is also working closely with county partners to share the latest advance planning tools DWR has used to support other flood prone areas of the state and to help local agencies in the basin prepare for flooding. DWR has also launched a $5 million program to provide temporary pumps to local water districts for groundwater recharge basins to increase flood diversions.
Last month, Governor Newsom signed an executive order to support the ongoing response to flooding by expediting levee repairs, floodwater diversion and other emergency response activities. California also secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support storm response and recovery in Tulare County and other impacted counties. Following the Disaster Declaration, Disaster Recovery Centers across the state are now open, serving as central hubs to connect community members and businesses with support.
With DWR projecting flooding impacts for the next 16 weeks, the state continues to support and conduct operations to forecast flood impacts, provide technical assistance and flood fighting materials, and divert river flows into groundwater basins all in an effort to protect communities and infrastructure.
Leveraging the more than $8.6 billion committed by Governor Newsom and the Legislature in the last two budget cycles to build water resilience, the state is continuing to take aggressive action to prepare for the impacts of climate-driven extremes in weather on the state’s water supplies. In the 2023-24 state budget, the Governor is proposing an additional $202 million for flood protection.
Business owners that were impacted by storms in Kern, Mariposa, Monterey, San Benito, San Bernardino, Santa Cruz, Tulare, and Tuolumne counties can register for federal assistance to help them repair or replace damaged property that was destroyed.
Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest disaster loans to help cover disaster-caused damage or mitigation to help prevent future storm damage. Businesses can register online at disasterassistance.gov.
Additionally, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is mobilizing existing funds from the state’s Rapid Response Fund to provide disaster recovery services to undocumented Californians ineligible for FEMA individual assistance due to immigration status. These efforts also include ensuring mixed-status families are accessing federal and state resources that they may be eligible for.
The Labor and Workforce Development Agency is coordinating with local partners and nonprofits to mobilize and provide assistance, particularly to farmworkers.
5 Reasons Why Tulare, California is a Great Place to Live
If you're looking for a great place to live in California, you should definitely consider Tulare. This small city located in the heart of the Central Valley has a lot to offer, from beautiful parks and recreation areas to fantastic restaurants and businesses. In this article, we'll explore some of the best reasons why Tulare is such a great place to live.Parks and RecreationTulare has a variety of beautiful parks and recreation areas that are perfect for getting outdoors and enjoying nature. One of the most popular is Mooney ...
If you're looking for a great place to live in California, you should definitely consider Tulare. This small city located in the heart of the Central Valley has a lot to offer, from beautiful parks and recreation areas to fantastic restaurants and businesses. In this article, we'll explore some of the best reasons why Tulare is such a great place to live.
Parks and Recreation
Tulare has a variety of beautiful parks and recreation areas that are perfect for getting outdoors and enjoying nature. One of the most popular is Mooney Grove Park, which features stunning gardens, a lake, and a variety of walking trails. You can also visit Zumwalt Park, which has a skate park, playground, and picnic areas. And if you're looking for a great place to take your dog, be sure to check out Del Lago Park, which has a dog park and plenty of open space for your furry friend to run around.
One of the best things about living in Tulare is the amazing food. The city has a wide variety of restaurants that serve everything from classic American fare to international cuisine. If you're in the mood for Mexican food, be sure to check out Antojitos Mexicanos or El Patron Taqueria. If you're in the mood for something a little fancier, head over to Jack & Charlie's, which offers high-end steaks and seafood. And if you're a fan of pizza, you won't want to miss the delicious pies at Me-n-Ed's Pizza Parlor.
Tulare is a great place to raise a family, thanks to its wide variety of family-friendly activities. One of the most popular is the Tulare County Fair, which takes place every September and features everything from livestock exhibits to carnival rides. If you're looking for something a little more educational, be sure to check out the ImagineU Children's Museum, which offers hands-on exhibits and activities for kids of all ages. And if you're looking for a fun way to cool off during the summer, be sure to visit the Tulare Public Pool, which offers swimming lessons and recreational swim hours.
Tulare has a variety of great shopping options, whether you're looking for high-end fashion or unique gifts. One of the most popular destinations is the Tulare Outlets, which features a wide variety of stores offering discounts on everything from clothing to home goods. And if you're looking for something a little more unique, be sure to check out the boutiques and gift shops in downtown Tulare.
If you're a history buff, you'll love living in Tulare. The city is home to a variety of historical sites, including the Tulare County Museum, which features exhibits on local history and culture. You can also visit the Tulare Historical Museum, which is housed in the city's original railroad depot. And if you're interested in the history of agriculture in the area, be sure to visit the AgVentures! Learning Center and Museum, which offers hands-on exhibits and activities related to farming and ranching.
Tulare, California is a fantastic place to live, thanks to its beautiful parks and recreation areas, great food, family-friendly activities, shopping, and historical sites. Whether you're looking for a place to raise a family or just want to enjoy a great quality of life, Tulare has something to offer everyone.
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Tulare County braces for impacts of a historic snowpack
Tulare County residents are bracing for another round possible flooding as temperatures are expected to rise in the coming weeks, likely causing local waterways to overflow as lake's rise.More than a dozen atmospheric rivers hit the Central Valley beginning in December. While causing widespread damage, the storms also created an unusually robust Sierra snowpack, which supplies about a third of California’s water. With snow levels at an all-time high, there is growing concern that when the snow melts it will cause ...
Tulare County residents are bracing for another round possible flooding as temperatures are expected to rise in the coming weeks, likely causing local waterways to overflow as lake's rise.
More than a dozen atmospheric rivers hit the Central Valley beginning in December. While causing widespread damage, the storms also created an unusually robust Sierra snowpack, which supplies about a third of California’s water. With snow levels at an all-time high, there is growing concern that when the snow melts it will cause flooding issues in San Joaquin and Tulare basins.
“The real challenge as we move into spring and summer though is flooding — significant flooding — particularly in the Tulare Lake Basin,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the Department of Water Resources.
Snowmelt season well above average
This season’s statewide snowpack at 227% of average, as of March 27. That is greater than any previous April reading since the sensor network was deployed in the mid-1980s, said Sean de Guzman, water supply forecasting unit manager for the California Department of Water Resources.
Snowpack levels help determine crop planting patterns, ground water pumping needs, and irrigation schedules. The information is also used to evaluate water supply and whether water rationing is needed.
Following the storms, Tulare Lake — located in Corcoran — has water for the first time in roughly four decades. The lake dried up after its rivers were diverted for agricultural irrigation and municipal water uses. However, the lake has reappeared during unusually high levels of rainfall or snow melt.
Today, the lake bed is primarily used for agriculture.
It's up to operators of flood control projects to determine how much water can safely be stored in a reservoir while reserving space for predicted inflows.
Kaweah, Kings, Tule and Kern rivers flow into Tulare Lake.
We continue to work around the clock with our state, county, and local partners to mitigate the risk of flooding downstream of our reservoirs, including Tulare Lake.
"Our releases at all locations are coordinated with local and regional water resources agencies to reduce flood-related risks to people and property," said Ken Wright, Army Corps of Engineers public affairs specialist. "As always, we are managing our reservoirs to ensure flood control space for potential increased inflows and the operational integrity of our dams, outlet works and spillways."
As of Monday, Lake Success was at 61.6% capacity, Lake Kaweah was at 37.4% capacity, with both dam spillways expected to remain operational, according to Cal Fire. Pine Flat Reservoir was at 62.8% capacity.
In anticipate of snowmelt season, the state is deploying flood fight specialist to support "ongoing flood response activities." California Department of Water Resources is also providing hydraulic and hydrologic modeling and snowmelt forecasts specific to the Tulare Lake Basin that are informed by the department's snowmelt forecasting tools.
Construction on the Tule River Spillway Enlargement Project is also underway and is meant to lower the flood risk for downstream communities by increasing the capacity of Success Lake by 28,000 acre-feet. The project will also support the lake’s water storage and recreation abilities, according to Army Corps of Engineers.
"Considering this year’s record snowpack, we anticipate greater than average inflow of water into Lake Kaweah and Success Lake," Wright said. "Reservoir releases are coordinated with the respective water users on the Kaweah and Tule systems and follow the Water Control Manual."
The manual is used to make assessments on flood control.
However, flooding is not the only risk with snowmelt season.
“This year is very different from the last several years, in that the excessive snowpack and rain will continue to create challenges for us in the weeks and months ahead,” said CAL FIRE Chief Joe Tyler. “Our teams will continue to focus on localized flooding risks, potential for major flooding, water rescues and our operational capabilities to support our communities moving into the spring and summer months.”
Water dangers loom when weather warms, snow melts
The eventual spring warm-up will bring fast flows and cold temperatures when all that snow starts to melt. This week's forecast is expected to bring temperatures in the low 80s, according to the National Weather Service.
“After successive low-water drought years, it is imperative that Californians understand water safety in and around rivers, streams, lakes and Sierra reservoirs,” State Parks Director Armando Quintero said. “As the temperature rises, snowmelt-fed waterways can quickly induce incapacitating cold-water shock to even the strongest swimmers. We encourage everyone to follow the advice of public safety officials and avoid entering waterways if asked to do so.”
Already this year, water levels in the St. John’s and Kings rivers forced Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux to issue a closer notice for both rivers. The closure includes waterways, banks, and beaches for recreational and commercial use.
The Kings River is closed from the Tulare/Fresno county line, west of Avenue 428, to the Tulare/Kings county line, east of Avenue 384.
The St. John’s River will be closed from Mckays Point, west of Road 236, to where the St. Johns turns into Cross Creek to the Tulare/Kings county line at Avenue 1.
Water warnings are not just for locals.
All Californians are being encouraged to wait until summer to recreate in the water, when conditions are safer.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
California’s ghostly Tulare Lake will be revived this year
In summaryCalifornia was once home to the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River, but Tulare Lake disappeared as water was diverted to irrigate crops. This year, however, the lake will once again re-emerge.Spanish soldier and California explorer Pedro Fages was chasing deserters in 1772 when he came across a vast marshy lake and named it Los Tules for the reeds and rushes that lined its shore.Situated between the later cities of Fresno and Bakersfield, Tulare Lake, as it was named in Engli...
California was once home to the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River, but Tulare Lake disappeared as water was diverted to irrigate crops. This year, however, the lake will once again re-emerge.
Spanish soldier and California explorer Pedro Fages was chasing deserters in 1772 when he came across a vast marshy lake and named it Los Tules for the reeds and rushes that lined its shore.
Situated between the later cities of Fresno and Bakersfield, Tulare Lake, as it was named in English, was the nation’s largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. It spread out to as much as 1,000 square miles as snow in the Sierra melted each spring, feeding five rivers flowing into the lake.
Its abundance of fish and other wildlife supported several Native American tribes, who built boats from the lake’s reeds to gather its bounty.
When the snowmelt was particularly heavy, the lake rose high enough that a natural spillway would divert water into the San Joaquin River and thence to the Pacific Ocean through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay.
It was a fairly common phenomenon in the 19th century, but the last time it happened naturally was in 1878. With the arrival of the railroad, the region was becoming an agricultural center and farmers were diverting water from Tulare’s tributaries for irrigation.
As those diversions expanded in the 20th century, Tulare Lake gradually shrank and disappeared altogether after World War II, when Pine Flat Dam blocked the Kings River, its major tributary, and levees channeled natural flows.
Once dry, the lakebed became the site of immense cotton farms, principally those of the Boswell and Salyer families. However, every few decades nature would reassert itself, piling up so much snow in the Sierra that the dams and levees were unable to contain the Kings and other rivers and Tulare Lake would be recreated.
I personally witnessed one such recreation, in the spring of 1970, as editor of the Hanford Sentinel. The Kings River runoff was so intense that Pine Flat Dam came within a few feet of being overtopped. I visited the dam during that period to report on what was happening and was taken inside the concrete structure, which was groaning and slightly leaking – a bizarre and somewhat eerie experience.
Pine Flat Dam held but water roared down the mountains in the Kings and other rivers and very quickly, or so it seemed, Tulare Lake reappeared.
The Boswell and Salyer families, which had feuded for years, battled over whose lands would be flooded. Guards with shotguns patrolled the Tulare Basin Water Storage District’s levees as rumors spread about clandestine plans to dynamite them. That didn’t happen, but the Salyer holdings were inundated and the two agribusiness giants waged a legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The most spectacular re-emergence of Tulare Lake in recent years occurred in 1983 as record snows in the Sierra once again overcame human efforts to control its rivers. The lake was so high that two men, Bill Cooper and John Sweetser, kayaked 450 miles in 11 days from central Bakersfield to San Francisco Bay. They paddled down the Kern River, across Tulare Lake, up the Kings River and through the Fresno Slough into the San Joaquin River for a downstream run into the Delta and San Francisco Bay.
This bit of California history is offered because snowfall in the watersheds of the Kings and other rivers that flow naturally into the Tulare Lake basin is surpassing the record level of 1982-83. It’s almost certain that Tulare Lake will once again spring to life.
The probability is even generating some hopeful, if unrealistic, speculation that state and/or federal governments could buy up the lakebed’s fields and bring back Tulare Lake permanently.
(This hour-long video tells the history of Tulare Lake, illustrated with many old photos and maps.}
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