December 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 158 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 220 CFS
Lake level is at 49817 acre-feet
Dry, dry, dry. Odds of a “Big Water” year are looking slim. We are still early though in terms of winter and snowpack but NOAA is at 90% chance of La Nina for our region which typically favors a sub-average winter. By me posting this the odds increase of a massive winter, so who knows – let’s see how the cards lay this month. I expect flows this month to remain mostly the same with the exception of the Upper Kern if it gets colder then it’ll drop a bit.
November 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 121 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 155 CFS
Lake level is at 50,919 acre-feet
Posting this early because I will be off the grid for most of November. Anyway. A record breaking storm for northern CA, which was a glancing blow for Southern CA, dumping an unconfirmed three feet of snow in our Mt. Whitney drainage. Which considering this is October, is great news. The forecast for the next three weeks looks normal ie relatively dry so no bump in flows are expected on the Upper or Lower Kern.
October 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 100 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 91 CFS
Lake level is at 50893 acre-feet
A quick hitting storm bumped flows slightly, but more importantly, was able to help extinguish fires in the area. Outflow is expected to roughly match inflow for the fall.
September 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 71 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 98 CFS
Lake level is at 54196 acre-feet
Water is low, too low to even tube. The outlook is it will stay in these flows until our first winter storm. Not a whole lot to report on overall.
August 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 164 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 234 CFS
Lake level is at 59891 acre-feet
The 2021 rafting season has officially concluded. Many of the monthly updates will look similar for quite a while barring a winter storm (fingers crossed). The slight bump in flows on the Upper Kern is due to monsoonal thunderstorms which, while infrequent, are normal for this time of year. Likely by October, the outflow on the Lower Kern will match inflow to keep the lake level constant.
July 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 106 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 331 CFS
Lake level is at 70160 acre-feet
The Upper Kern has petered out and by my standards (200 – 500 CFS), is now too low even for tubing. For July, the Upper Kern will continue to trend down and bottom out in the 90 CFS range. The Lower Kern recently dropped to 331 CFS, which is still do-able in a small raft on the Jungle Run section, but there isn’t much downward room below that. Miracle or Big Five are not possible in a raft at these flows. I expect Lower Kern flows to be between 200 – 400 for the remainder of the month.
June 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 320 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 708 CFS
Lake level is at 89422 acre-feet
The 2021 Upper Kern season for rafting has concluded. For June I expect the Upper Kern to trend down towards the 200 range. The Lower Kern is the new wild card. Projected flows were showing low flows but then the heat came on and it touched 800 CFS for a short period of time. My guess is we’ll be between 500 – 750 for June most likely, which unfortunately toggles the range of what sections are open down there.
May 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 561 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 400 CFS
Lake level is at 91,850 acre-feet
The Upper Kern may have peaked yesterday at 805 CFS. For May I expect the Upper Kern to be similar to what we saw in April, but towards the end of the month, we will be on the backside of the trend with decreasing flows. So between 400 – 650 CFS on the Upper Kern.
For the Lower Kern, I expect it to be 400 CFS for the entire month of May without much fluctuation.
April 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 365 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 350 CFS
Lake level is at 93,762 acre-feet
Unfortunately, a March Miracle or even March Mitigation did not materialize, so our snowpack did not grow. The official reading is based on April 1, which on average is when the snowpack is the deepest, and for Southern California that rang in at 41%.
For April I expect the Lower Kern to hang in the 400 CFS range and the Upper Kern to swing between 400 and 650 CFS.
March 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 217 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 264 CFS
Lake level is at 94,445 acre-feet
February ended up being quite dry, despite historically being the wettest month of the year for California. In some years this wouldn’t be a big deal, but in a lackluster winter such as this one, the deficit is being strongly felt. At this point, a March Miracle or mitigation will be necessary to ensure a normal length Upper Kern season. The Lower Kern is still too early to tell, but as of right now rafting on Labor Day is looking unlikely.
The outlook for March is pointing towards stormy weather but nothing significant in the ten day window. We shall see what gets delivered. March is typically the first crack at raftable flows and I do not think that will be likely this season, so I am projecting Upper Kern flows sub 300 for all of March with the Lower following suit.
February 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 244 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 314 CFS
Lake level is at 94,905 acre-feet
A large storm at the end of January dropped ~20% of April 1 snowpack in our drainage, which is quite large, but we’re still running at a season deficit. The storm was quite cold so nothing came down the Upper, which is good. The bullseyes of the storm missed us by about 50 miles, with Mammoth receiving over 10 feet of snow in a three day period. Outlook for February is uncertain with ops models showing some cut-off low storms but ensembles not in agreement yet and still showing an overall dry pattern. No flow change on Upper or Lower is expected unless a warm storm comes in, which is looking unlikely.
January 2021 Outlook
Upper Kern is flowing at 177 CFS
Lower Kern is flowing at 200 CFS
Lake level is at 96,599 acre-feet
A short hitting storm dropped some moisture around Christmas time. Looking forward no storms are on the forecast but Howard from Mammoth Weather is feeling confident of a pattern change. We shall see. Flows aren’t expected to change unless we get a winter storm.