(KSEE/KGPE) – Images from NASA’s Earth Observatory show how the once-extinct Tulare Lake has come back to life thanks to the series of atmospheric rivers that started hitting California in December 2022.
After the rivers that fed into the lake were dammed starting in the late 1800s, the lake dried up and the basin has since been used as farmland.
California has experienced a number of atmospheric rivers starting late last year that have led to the lake’s reappearance and prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to direct state resources to prepare for the flooding.
Now, images from satellites that passed over the area in March 2022 and March 2023 show the result of all that precipitation.
NASA says the image is “false color” and that the dark blue is water, green is vegetation and brown is “bare ground”.
According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, homes and roads in the nearby city of Corcoran flooded as a result of all the precipitation.
“With historic rain and snowpack creating immense challenges for this region, our first priority is protecting lives and livelihoods impacted by this devastating flooding,” said Newsom. “State officials are on the ground to assist communities, support the local emergency response underway and prepare for the surge of snowmelt runoff in the months ahead.”
The images above show the progression of the lake’s return since early March.
“The basin is a powerhouse for agricultural production and the impact of the flooding is going to be prolonged,” said Safeeq Khan, agricultural engineer and adjunct professor in civil and environmental engineering at UC Merced, told NASA’s Earth Observatory. “The four counties within the basin—Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare—are some of the top-producing counties in the state.”