SLO County lakes filling up

Tribune photo by Joe Johnston

Local lakes continue to rise with the boost in recent rainfall.

The rain gauge at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s ocean lab has shown twice the amount of rainfall this year compared with the same period last year, said John Lindsey, a local forecaster and media relations representative for Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

As of Friday, 16.49 inches of rain had fallen at Diablo Canyon, Lindsey said, compared to 8.18 inches as of March 5, 2009.

Just how much impact such downpours have on local reservoirs depends on the size of the reservoir, the area of the watershed that drains into it and the amount of rain that falls in that specific area, said Carrie Mattingly, utilities director with the city of San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo has benefited from the winter rains because they have filled the Salinas Reservoir, one of the city’s key water supplies. It began spilling in late February.

The heightened capacities have also been building as the rain season progresses.

In mid-February, Naci-miento Lake reached 44 percent of its capacity, compared with 27 percent at the same point in 2009.

Nacimiento Lake stood at 16 percent capacity at the beginning of the year. Parts of the popular North County recreational spot were so dry that private docks sat on exposed mud. Now, those areas are filled with water once again.

One of the lake’s first boosts came as the result of a rainy week in January. That 16 percent on Jan. 18 climbed to more than 31 percent about a week later.

Winter is drawing to a close — spring will officially begin March 20. But rain continues to be in the forecast. Light showers are expected tonight through Wednesday morning as another fast-moving storm blows through, Lindsey said. Then another chance of light showers is forecast for Friday afternoon, Lindsey said.

Strong to gale force northwesterly winds reaching 25 to 38 mph are forecast to batter the area through Wednesday. The gusts could reach 50 mph along the coastline by the afternoon.

Fair weather is then expected for Sunday through the middle part of next week, he said.