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Search still underway for body of Folsom Lake jet skier. Water is high but cold, officials say

Lakes, rivers and a meadow during drought years compared to January 2017

What a difference an abundance of water makes. January 2017 saw a deluge of rain in Northern California. These images of Folsom Lake, Atascadero Lake, Lake Oroville, Echo Summit and the South Yuba River show what a difference the recent rain and s
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What a difference an abundance of water makes. January 2017 saw a deluge of rain in Northern California. These images of Folsom Lake, Atascadero Lake, Lake Oroville, Echo Summit and the South Yuba River show what a difference the recent rain and s

Park officials say a third day of searching is underway at Folsom Lake for a 29-year-old man who is missing and presumed to have drowned after falling off a jet ski without a life jacket Sunday.

The search resumed Tuesday about 8 a.m. and continues to include the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies’ boats and dive teams, according to Folsom Lake State Recreation Area Superintendent Richard Preston.

The possible drowning victim, a resident of Vineyard, reportedly fell into the water while riding jet skis with a friend about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Preston and a news release by the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said Monday. The two jet skiers became separated briefly before the friend came across the missing man’s jet ski near the peninsula and Brown’s Ravine, with the victim nowhere to be found.

Teams were unable to locate a body Monday or during about 90 minutes of searching Sunday before dark.

Preston noted that while it’s “not common” for jet skiers to take to the lake in mid-April, “we did have a pretty nice day on Sunday.” He said boating and jet skiing is popular on the lake when the weather is warmer, regardless of calendar date. Folsom was sunny and reached the mid-70s Sunday.

The water temperature, however, is significantly cooler in April than it is by June. Preston said the water was likely about 60 degrees Sunday. The lake reaches the 70s and low 80s during summer months, he said.

The water level at Folsom Lake is also higher than it’s been at this point in the year since well before California’s drought, according to the state Department of Water Resources. At 450 feet Sunday, the reservoir elevation was the highest it’s been on April 14 since 1989.

Folsom Lake’s boat ramps open and close according to lake elevation, not by date, according to the Folsom Lake Marina website. The main boat ramp at Brown’s Ravine closes at 399 feet, and Folsom Point closes below at 407 feet.

With heavy rain to start the year across Northern California, Folsom Lake’s elevation has risen nearly 60 feet this year, up from 392 Jan. 1, according to DWR data.

Amid peak drought conditions, the popular recreational lake sat dismally empty. In October 2015, the lake was at just 17 percent of its capacity at 162,000 acre-feet of water, as The Bee reported at the time.

On July 1 of 2014 and 2015, lake elevations were recorded at 412 feet and 408 feet, respectively. As a result, the shoreline plunged, requiring summertime swimmers to walk a few hundred feet from the picnic benches and not-so-beachside concessions stand at Beals Point in Granite Bay.

The lake’s water levels have since rebounded to 463 feet by the same date in 2017 and 453 feet last year.

1_RB Drought 5.JPG
A view of Folsom Lake in December 2013 shows the low level of the regional reservoir during what has been the rainy season. Sacramento

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.


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