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Temps heading to 92 degrees; drought worsens
DWR snow
Photo courtesy Department of Water Resources State officials found only traces of snow during the April 1 snowpack survey at the Sierra Nevada's Phillips Station.

Temperatures are expected to soar past 90 degrees for the first time this year on Friday as the drought outlook worsens.

Among the developments on Friday:

*The Bureau of Reclamation informed 70 agencies that receive water from federal reservoirs for household and other urban users that they will no longer be able to expect 25 percent of their contracted supply as they were told earlier this year. They are now being told they will only receive enough water for critical uses such as drinking and bathing.

*The Department of Water Resources survey showed the water content was at 38 percent of normal for April 1. Over a third of the water California uses come from the snowpack.

*Monitor Pass at 8,314 feet on Highway 89 was reopened after being closed for the winter. An anemic snowpack compared to normal at the higher elevation also may mean earlier than usual openings for the Ebbetts (Highway 4), Sonora (Highway 108) and Tioga (Highway 120) passes.

*New Melones Reservoir — the 2.4-million-acre foot reservoir on the Stanislas River that plays a pivotal role in water supplies for South San Joaquin Irrigation District and its urban city customers in Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy — is at 935,105-acre feet or 39 percent capacity. It is the only major reservoir in the state with a current outflow that s significantly higher than its inflow.

*Californians have only reduced water consumption by 6 percent. Gov. Gavin Newsom last July asked Californians to cut water used 15 percent compared to 2020 levels in a bid to weather the drought.

*More of the state — 40 percent altogether — has slipped into extreme drought. That compares to 31.7 percent of the state a year ago on March 31. The category is just under exceptional drought which is the absolute worst possible water condition to be in.

The National Weather Service is expecting high temperatures in Manteca-Stockton to rise past the 80 degrees mark by Wednesday and stay there through Sunday. The peak high of 92 degrees is predicted for Friday.

Forecasters are indicating temperatures could flirt with the 100-degree mark in locations such as Redding.

Caltrans opened Monitor Pass on Highway 89 at noon on Friday after crews removed snow and ice, cleared debris, and made necessary repairs to safely reopen the highway.

Caltrans’ goal is to have all winter passes open to the public no later than the Friday prior to Memorial Day Weekend. Late-season storms, snow accumulation and resources sometimes can hinder this goal. However, due to the low volumes of rain and snow this year, Caltrans opened Monitor Pass and may be able to open the Sonora Pass on Route 108 in Alpine County and Ebbetts Pass on Route 4 in Alpine, Mono and Tuolumne counties sooner.

Sonora pass opened last year on May 6. It has opened even earlier in previous years including April 13 in 1994, and April 17 in 2015.

Last year Tioga pass (Highway 120) opened on May 27. While the average opening date on the past 20 years has been May 28, Tioga pass has opened as early as April 29 in 1988, May 2 in 1987, May 15 in 1990, May 12 in 1989, May 4 in 2015, May 2 in 2014, and May 7 in 2012.

Caltrans’ top goal is safety for the traveling public. Even though the pass is open, motorists still should be prepared for emergencies as weather and road conditions can change rapidly. Winter weather and road conditions can change rapidly. Motorists should expect the worst conditions and be prepared when traveling in areas subject to hazardous conditions.

All vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive or snow tires, must carry chains when traveling during snowy weather. Drivers without chains in their possession may not be allowed to proceed. When highway signs indicate that chains are required, drivers must stop and install chains or risk being cited and fined.  


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email