Two major floods occurred in California in 1952. The first was the flood of January 11-13 in the south San Francisco Bay region that resulted from heavy rains which began on the morning of January 11 and ended about noon January 13. This flood was notable for the magnitude of the peak discharges, although these discharges were reduced by the controlling effect of reservoirs for conservation and flood-control purposes. The flood damage was thereby reduced, and no lives were lost; damage, nevertheless, amounted to about $1.400.000.
The second flood was due, not to the immediate runoff of heavy rain, but to the melting of one of the largest snow packs ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada range. In the spring and summer of 1952, flood runoff occurred on all the major streams draining the Sierra Nevada. In the northern half of the Central Valley basin?the Sacramento River basin?flood volumes and maximum daily discharges were not exceptional. and flood damage was not appreciable. However, in the southern half, which is formed by the Kern River, Tulare Lake, and San Joaquin River basins, new records for snowmelt runoff were established for some streams; but for below-normal temperatures and shorter, less warm hot spells, record flood discharges would have occurred on many others. In the three basins an area of 200,000 acres. largely cropland. was inundated, and damage was estimated at $11,800,000.