FOLSOM, CA - Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Sacramento are comparing this week's storm to the 1996-'97 New Years storm that caused flooding throughout the Sacramento Valley.
According to Bill Rash, with the National Weather Service, the biggest difference between the two storms is that by the time the 1997 storm hit, there had already been a significant amount of precipitation. Northern California reservoirs were full of water and the additional stress on the waterway system lead to levee breaches in areas like Rio Linda in Sacramento County the Marysville area in Yuba County.
While the November 2012 storm is also expected to bring significant amounts of rain, currently Northern California reservoirs, rivers and creeks are low and likely able to handle the influx of water.
Additionally, California's waterway system has undergone critical upgrades since the 1997 storm.
Folsom Dam, built in 1955, is undergoing a massive reconstruction project that began in 2009 and is scheduled for completion in 2017. Once complete, Folsom Dam will be able to release water, when levels are lower, earlier in the season, rather than waiting until the reservoir is almost full, which tends to put a lot of stress on the rivers, levees and streams below.