Shasta Lake is full for the second consecutive year -

Shasta Lake is full for the second consecutive year

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Shasta Lake, which has reached near-full capacity for the second consecutive year in 2024. Following similarly high levels in spring 2023, this marks a significant recovery from the severe drought and reduced water levels experienced from 2019 to 2022.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of Shasta Lake on May 7, 2024, showing the reservoir at 96 percent of its total capacity, which is 114 percent of the average for that date. By contrast, an image from Landsat 9 in April of 2022 showed the lake at only 39 percent capacity, with the year’s maximum reaching just 40 percent.

Transformation of Shasta Lake 

The turnaround began in early 2023, driven by heavy rains and substantial runoff from an above-average snowpack in the mountains. By May 29, 2023, the reservoir had filled to 98 percent of its capacity, erasing the visible “bathtub ring” that had marked its perimeter in previous years.

The water levels at Shasta Lake began to rise significantly again by mid-January 2024 due to persistent storms, leading to higher levels at the start of 2024 than in the previous year. 

Abundance of rainfall

By mid-February 2024, the reservoir was considered excessively full for the season. In an effort to accommodate more inflow and reduce flood risks, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation increased water discharges to up to seven times the winter baseline rate.

The abundance of rainfall in early 2024 also benefited other state reservoirs like Lake Oroville, which reached full capacity for a second year. Despite ongoing water releases, it held 128 percent of its average capacity in early May 2024.

Groundwater gains 

Groundwater, which typically makes up 40 percent of California’s water supply and up to 60 percent in dry years, also saw improvements. The California Department of Water Resources reported a net gain of 4.1 million acre-feet in managed groundwater recharge during the last water year (October 2022 through September 2023), marking the first annual increase since 2019. 

However, the department estimates it would require five consecutive above-average water years to recover from the deficits of the past two decades.

More about Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake, located in Northern California, is the largest reservoir in the state. It was created by the damming of the Sacramento River with the construction of the Shasta Dam in the 1940s. This massive lake is a popular destination for a variety of recreational activities including fishing, boating, and water skiing.

The lake’s surroundings are characterized by scenic landscapes, including the Shasta-Trinity National Forest which is a popular destination for hiking, camping, and exploring diverse wildlife and natural beauty. The area is also known for its geological significance, featuring a variety of volcanic features and the nearby Mount Shasta, a prominent volcanic peak.

Additionally, Shasta Lake plays a crucial role in water supply, hydroelectric power generation, and flood control in California. Its capacity and strategic location make it integral to the Central Valley Project, which manages the water resources of the region for agricultural, urban, and environmental uses.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 


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