Winter storms in 1997 revived the long dormant Tulare Lake in the San Joaquin Valley. With a record snowpack now in the region, many are wondering if it will once again return.
State Climatologist Michael Anderson put that to rest on Monday during a press briefing. He explained that 1997 saw a large amount of flooding over a brief period. Today the state is experiencing a series of storms and the cumulative impacts will not be as sharp.
Jeremy Arrich, who leads the state’s flood management at the Department of Water Resources, expected to see more levee issues “pop up” with the current storm. He explained that “there are a lot of levee systems that are not robustly designed and constructed.”

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But Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, is more worried about a long-lasting spring snowmelt—as happened in 1983.
In a blog post Monday, Mount explained that it took two years to pump down Tulare Lake to a dry lakebed for farming to resume. In the years since then, well pumping has lowered the ground level, meaning floodwaters could spread more broadly.
“If this spring is anything like 1983, there will be major disruptions to the farm economy in the region,” he warned.