Recent storms aren’t enough to relieve the drought, but rainfall totals for the season are inching closer to average.
The season total for downtown Sacramento as of 4 p.m. Tuesday was 2.74 inches, or 67 percent of average, and the total at Executive Airport was 2.97 inches, or 84 percent of the average for that location, said Karl Swanberg, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.
During the 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Tuesday, 0.53 inches of rain fell in downtown Sacramento and 0.71 inches at Executive Airport.
Swanberg said the Sacramento area could receive an additional half-inch of rain overnight Tuesday and another half-inch Wednesday . A high around 58 degrees is forecast, with wind around 22 mph and gusts as high as 33 mph.
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The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch for portions of El Dorado and Placer counties, effective until 4 a.m. Thursday, in and below those areas burned by the King fire. Swanberg said those areas could receive between 1.5 and 2 inches of rain Wednesday.
“It’s not the amount, it’s the rate,” he said, noting that a flash-flood watch indicates the potential for rainfall exceeding a half-inch per hour.
An aerial mulching project begun last week by the U.S. Forest Service and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in burned areas of the Eldorado National Forest had to be suspended due to weather conditions.
For the 72-hour period ending at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Placerville had received 1.26 inches of rain, while 0.92 inches had fallen in Pollock Pines and 0.90 inches in Georgetown.
The project involves dropping straw mulch from helicopters over about 1,200 acres of forestland affected by the King fire to help prevent erosion during winter storms.
Jennifer Chapman, spokeswoman for the Eldorado National Forest, said mulch had been dropped on an estimated 200 to 300 acres before work was suspended because of storms. Based on weather forecasts, she said, the work won’t be resumed for several weeks.
“There’s a lot of mud on roads and where the helicopters try to land,” she said.
It is not cost-effective, she said, to bring helicopters in on an intermittent basis.
“We would wait for a long dry period, or until spring arrives,” Chapman said.
Swanberg said above-normal rainfall is projected for December.
As of this Tuesday afternoon, Chapman said, there had been some reports of culverts clogged with debris, but no mass flooding or mudslides.
A number of preventive measures, in addition to the aerial mulching, have been taken. Trees have been dropped on the ground to create log barriers that will help trap sediment so water will have less of an effect. Storm-proofing of forest trails has been completed, and storm-proofing of roads is 45 percent complete, she said.
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.
National Weather Service readings, in inches, from midnight to 5 p.m.