By LAURA Austin News Review Staff Writer–
Historic winter storms that brought warm temperatures and rain to the Sierra Nevada mountain range have caused widespread flooding and filling California’s reservoirs. The California drought is over.
Last Friday and Saturday, the area experienced a massive atmospheric deluge of rain that slammed the region. The heavy rain brought road closures, difficult travel conditions, flooding, and evacuation orders.
The Kern River reached a flow rate of 47,000 cubic feet per second late Friday and early Saturday morning. That’s more than one acre-foot per second, 60 acre-feet per minute, and 360 acre-feet per hour. Approximately 72,000-acre feet of water flowed into Lake Isabella within 20-24 hours which currently is 15 feet below its high water mark. At this rate, Lake Isabella may reach capacity for the first time in nearly two decades.
The Kern County Fire Department (KCFD) ordered evacuations during the storm last Friday in Kernville and surrounding areas believed to be hazardous.
As of last Sunday evening, more than 50 road closures had been reported by the Kern County Roads Department.
On Monday, KCFD firefighters took advantage of the break in the weather. They were able to continue with damage assessments and preparations for the next forecasted storm.
KCFD reminds residents that flooded creeks and water runoff still threaten the communities.
KCFD also said that the affected communities were to be commended for their efforts to prepare for the recent storms and heeding evacuation warnings and orders.
Another storm was forecasted to arrive on Tuesday, and all should monitor weather updates closely. KCFD encourages all to sign up for emergency notifications at readykern.com.
All Evacuation Warnings and Orders issued remain in place.
As of Tuesday evening, Kern County firefighters continued with area surveys as the rain began falling across parts of Kern County. During their surveys, they identified multiple slopes around Wofford Heights where soil had started to slide. Meetings were held with soil engineers to receive expert advice on the likelihood of landslides. The description was that soil failures had begun across the mountain and would likely increase during the forecasted rains. Without the ability to know exactly when other failures would occur or how severe the destruction would be as they moved downslope, the decision was made to issue an evacuation order for all of Wofford Heights, CA. KCFD Firefighters remain in the area with heavy and special rescue equipment while KCSO Deputies finalize evacuation notifications.
In light of the significant weather events and various safety warnings affecting the Kern River Valley area, the Kem County Probation Department has safely moved all Camp Erwin Owen program youth to another secure Probation youth facility.
This evacuation was successfully executed by Probation staff on Thursday evening.
Extreme weather conditions are expected to continue through the end of March.