Snowmelt contributions to flooding in the American River Basin

TitleSnowmelt contributions to flooding in the American River Basin
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1996
AuthorsKattelmann, R. C.
Conference Name64th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 64th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1996
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationBend, Oregon
KeywordsAmerican River, Folsom Dam, Sacramento, Snowmelt

Flooding during the winter of 1995 in the Sacramento area again raised concerns among residents, agencies, and politicians about safety and protection from floods of the American River for California's capital and suburbs. Mechanical failure of a principal gate on the Folsom Dam above the city during the summer of 1995 also raised concerns about the safety of structural protection against floods. A National Research Council panel released its evaluation of flood risk in the American River basin in late summer. In November 1995, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency recommended construction of a flood-control-only dam near Auburn. Snow has a fundamental role in the hydrology of the American River basin and can contribute large amounts of runoff to peak flows during warm storms. Snow at low elevations that subsequently melted appears to have been a critical factor in the flood of record in 1862 and the massive floods of February 1986.