Winter storms raise reservoir levels in Nevada County (Interactive graphics) |

Winter storms raise reservoir levels in Nevada County (Interactive graphics)

Water flows over the spillway of Englebright dam following last weekend's rain storms. Completed in 1941, the dam holds 70,000 acre feet of water and covers 780 surface acres, and is nine miles long with 24 miles of shoreline. The dam was originally constructed to store hydraulic mining debris from the Sierra Nevada.
Elias Funez /

Just over 4½ inches of rain fell over the weekend in Grass Valley.

That’s about three times the normal amount of rain for the entire month of April, the National Weather Service said.

The weekend rains are the latest example of precipitation that’s pushed through Nevada County this year, helping fill reservoirs and eliminating a drought that’s loomed over Northern California.

Map by Content Editor Samantha Sullivan

Meteorologists said Grass Valley has received 90.64 inches of rain since Oct. 1. That’s compared to an average of 50.74 inches for the same time.

Snowpack, of massive importance to the Nevada Irrigation District, is at 196 percent of average for this time of year.

“Keep in mind, this snowpack counts as another reservoir,” said Chip Close, water operations manager with NID. “We’re just in really, really good shape.”

The rain has affected reservoir levels across the board. Scotts Flat Lake, at 68 percent capacity in 2015 and 81 percent last year, stood at 100 percent capacity in late February, NID records show.

Jackson Meadows, at 72 percent capacity in 2015 and down to 61 percent in 2016, was around 78 percent at the same time, NID states.

PG&E, which has several reservoirs in Nevada County, has seen similar change. Brandi Merlo, with PG&E corporate relations, also pointed to an encouraging snowpack level she said will keep reservoirs full into mid-summer.

“Many of our reservoirs are well above normal levels for this time of year,” Merlo added.

On April 6, PG&E’s Nevada County reservoirs stood at 82.5 percent of full. The last time its local reservoirs exceeded that amount on that date was 1986, Merlo states in an email.

Nevada County’s reservoirs are expected to get at least one more bump before this year’s rainy season ends. There’s a chance of rain today through Thursday night.

“You guys will get more rain,” said Brooke Bingaman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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