Merced Irrigation District Reports High Flows are Increasing on the Merced River as Lake McClure Reaches 80% of Capacity
Sierra Sun Times file photo
February 9, 2017 - On Wednesday high flows of fast moving water in the Merced River have significantly increased. These flows will reach up to approximately 5,000 cubic feet per second both upstream and downstream of the Snelling area, as well as west to the Merced River’s confluence with the San Joaquin River near Newman. Flows could reach as high as 6,000 cubic feet per second over the upcoming weekend.
So far, 2017 is the wettest year on record in terms of snowpack and precipitation.
Merced Irrigation District is continuing to coordinate flood-management operations with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As larger volumes of water reach Lake McClure from numerous recent storms, MID is increasing releases from the reservoir to provide space for storm and snowmelt runoff.
Lake McClure rose 8 feet overnight Tuesday and is expected to exceed 80 percent of its capacity by Wednesday evening.
The high flows in the lower Merced River below Lake McClure are expected to continue for a substantial amount of time. The last time such high flows were seen was 2011, the last wet year before five consecutive years of drought. The high flows in 2011 resulted in numerous water rescues on the Merced River after warnings of high water levels were ignored by boaters and rafters. Ultimately, access to the river was temporarily closed for public safety. Water flows at that time were approximately 4,000 cubic feet per second. Flows beginning today will be larger and faster at approximately 5,000 cubic feet per second, and reach as high as 6,000 cubic feet per second over the weekend.
MID remains in contact with the Merced County Sheriff’s Office and the local Office of Emergency Services.