Flood releases made from Lake Mendocino for 1st time in 4 years

For the first time in nearly four years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began a series of high-flow releases Monday from the Coyote Valley Dam at Lake Mendocino near Ukiah.|

For the first time in nearly four years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began a series of high-flow releases Monday from the Coyote Valley Dam at Lake Mendocino near Ukiah.

Officials said the releases will reduce reservoir levels that had “significantly increased ... well into the flood control pool at Lake Mendocino for the first time since 2020” due to the series of moisture-laden atmospheric rivers that drenched the North Bay region at an almost daily pace for more than three weeks — since Dec. 26.

The high-flow release, officials said, will get rid of the excess water so the reservoir can accommodate additional rainfall this season.

The torrential storms deposited more than two feet of rain on some of the wettest parts of the North Bay, according to National Weather Service meteorologists and local water experts.

As of Monday, according to Chris Outler, a meteorologist at the weather service’s Monterey office, nearly 19 inches of rain had been recorded at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, while the Venado weather station west of Healdsburg had recorded just under 24 inches, and Austin Creek, just north of Guerneville, recorded just under 30 inches.

The Army Corps determined that Monday would be the right time to conduct the releases as the storms appear to have died down, reducing the risk of swamping downstream areas such as Hopland, 50 miles to the south.

In addition, the releases would help to improve conditions for communities along the Russian River, which is expected to continue to recede well below flood stage, which is 32 feet in Guerneville.

Showers are expected to return to Sonoma County on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, but they likely won’t start until after 4 p.m. with an accumulation rate of between a tenth and a quarter of an inch.

Forecasters predict Tuesday will be sunny with a high of 55 degrees. And, following Wednesday’s potentially wet weather, the sun will again return to the region Thursday, with sunny skies expected through the weekend.

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