Flood predictions, a washout.
FURTHER UPDATE: Noon, Monday, December 3
Despite the high-tech equipment which we all help pay for, government agencies have been known to occasionally, (despite their good intentions) get it wrong. This time we were lucky and the River never reached flood stage (32 feet in Guerneville).
But on this date last year, Guerneville’s rainfall total was 7.26 ” and today it stands at 18.95″ Even more dramatic, Cazadero’s stood at 10.68″ on this date last year and today it stands at 31.47″. And the rainy season has just begun.
NOAA now predicts a crest of 35 feet at 12 a.m. on December 3
The third in a series of overly zealous storms is expected to slam into the West county tonight and Sunday and considering the saturated ground, excessive runoff and the soaked earth’s inability to support trees and utility poles, it’s critical that people prepare or at least come up with a plan. Cazadero’s storm total of 12.40 inches and Guerneville’s of 7.11 inches are will predictably increase significantly. The Russian River, which stood at 5.9 feet at the Guerneville bridge before the storms started was initially predicted to rise to first 21 feet, and the adjusted to 30.4 feet but with Cazadero deluged by 9.27 inches in 24 hours, the predictions are bound to soon be upgraded and the hazards will increase exponentially. We who were here in 1986 expected storm problems bu no one anticipated the “daisy chain” flowing in fro Hawaii would ever result in the below totals. By the way, another storm is expected Tuesday.
Feb.12 Feb.13 Feb.14 Feb.15 Feb.16 Feb.17 Feb.18 Feb.19 Feb.20 Feb.21
2.10″ 1.15″ 3.90″ 2.00″ 2.85″ 8.50″ 1.30″ 1.55″ 1.07″ 0.15″
As of Noon, Friday November 30 the Guerneville Fire Department estimated the River will crest at about 31 feet on Sunday.
The following advisory has been issued by NOAA
SMALL STREAM FLOOD ADVISORY
Warning Issue Date: 902 AM PST FRI NOV 30 2012
Warning Expiration: 1100 AM PST FRI NOV 30 2012
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA HAS ISSUED AN * URBAN AND SMALL STREAM FLOOD ADVISORY FOR... MARIN COUNTY IN WESTERN CALIFORNIA... SONOMA COUNTY IN WESTERN CALIFORNIA... NAPA COUNTY IN WESTERN CALIFORNIA... * UNTIL 1100 AM PST. * AT 900 AM PST AUTOMATED RAINGAGE AND DOPPLER RADAR DATA INDICATED CONTINUED RAINFALL MOVING OVER THE ADVISORY AREA... EXCESS RUNOFF FROM PERSISTENT RAINFALL IS EXPECTED TO CAUSE PONDING OF WATER IN URBAN AREAS...HIGHWAYS...STREETS AND UNDERPASSES AS WELL AS OTHER POOR DRAINAGE AREAS AND LOW LYING SPOTS. ALSO...SMALL CREEKS AND STREAMS COULD FLOOD QUICKLY...POSSIBLY COVERING ROADS AND NEARBY LOW AREAS. ALLOW EXTRA TIME TO GET TO YOUR DESTINATION. IF WATER COVERS THE ROADWAY DO NOT CROSS IT. FLOOD WATERS ARE USUALLY DEEPER THAN THEY APPEAR AND THE WATER MAY BE TOO DEEP TO ALLOW YOUR VEHICLE TO CROSS SAFELY. A FLOOD ADVISORY MEANS THAT ALTHOUGH STREAMS AND CREEKS MAY BE ELEVATED OR EVEN RISE OUT OF THEIR BANKS...PROPERTY DAMAGE SHOULD BE MINIMAL. INCONVENIENCES CAN BE EXPECTED BUT THE FLOODING WILL NOT BE IMMEDIATELY LIFE THREATENING. TO REPORT FLOODING...HAVE THE NEAREST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY RELAY YOUR REPORT TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE.
Annie Lennox and the Eurhytmics’ mesmerizing “Here comes the Rain Again” tune, the forecast for the evening Guerneville was planning to light up Main Street with the Holiday Light Parade has given way to Credence Clearwater’s more appropriate “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” as all eyes are on the riparian corridor we know as the Russian River. The below report has been modified and the concern has grown with each expanded puddle. The below report has been updated twice and likely will be again, on Sunday evening.
According to meteorologist Megan Evans and other forecasters, a daisy chain of tropical storms will arrive beginning Wednesday “with breezy conditions and a brief round of rain,” with the first to likely to slow ground travel and delay flights. Heavier rain and stronger winds will arrive with a more potent storm Thursday night into Friday and are likely to cause more significant travel delays.
According to Western Weather Expert Ken Clark, “Urban, stream and small river flooding are possible Friday into the weekend” and slower-moving storms will continue to unleash locally heavy rain over the area with a subtropical moisture supply.”
“Total rainfall by the end of Sunday will be 6 to 10 inches in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the North Bay and the west facing foothills and mountains of the Sierra north of Yosemite, but local rainfall amounts could exceed a foot,” Clark said, especially in the hills above Cazadero where elevations above 1,200 feet could get as much as 15 inches of rain.
According to Clark, “Urban, stream and small river flooding are possible Friday into the weekend.” Along with the possibility of flooding, winds could reach 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph or more in the coastal hills. This weather pattern is expected to cause erosion, landslides and increase the danger of avalanches. The mudslides and debris flows are most likely in recent burn areas.
The Russian River currently stands at 5.9 feet at the Guerneville bridge but is expected to rise, according to N.O.A.A., to close to 21.5 feet by the evening of Friday, November 30.
The Holiday Light Parade slated for Saturday December 1 may have to be rescheduled and, according to Valerie Hausmann, that decision will be made 24 hours before it’s scheduled starting time.
During the 2011 water year the Russian River rose to 28.82 feet on March 21 and the peak discharge was measured at 37,300 cfs. During the St. Valentine’s Day flood of 1986, the stage (height) of the River reached 48.56 feet on February 18, and the peak discharge was 102,000 cfs.
The impact of the various stages, according to NOAA are as follows:
29.0 Feet Minor flooding is expected along the lower portions of the Russian River.
32.0 Feet Minor flooding is forecast along the lower Russian River. Lower Mill Street in Guerneville and Old Bohemian Highway in Monte Rio are expected to flood.
33.0 Feet Moderate flooding is forecast to occur with the lowest sections of Guerneville and Monte Rio expected to flood. The south end of the Guerneville bridge is expected to be inundated. Mirabel Trailer Park and Resort are forecast to begin flooding.
35.0 Feet Moderate flooding is forecast along the lower Russian River. Numerous businesses and residences in the lowest sections of towns within the reach are expected to flood. Mill, lower 4th and 5th Street in Guerneville are forecast to flood. Redwood Drive in Northwood is forecast to flood.
37.0Fee Significant flooding can be expected throughout the lower portions of the Russian
River. Mirabel Park will be flooded. Mirabel Road is expected to flood at River Road. Rio Nido village is forecast to begin flooding. River Road east of Guerneville and River Boulevard east of Monte Rio are expected to flood.
38.0 Feet Significant flooding is expected to occur throughout the lower portions of the Russian River. Freezeout Road between Monte Rio and Duncan’s Mills will be inundated. Highway 116 is expected to become flooded below the Cazadero Road intersection.
39.0 Feet Significant flooding is expected to occur along the lower portions of the Russian River. River Road, along with a few houses, will flood at the town of Hacienda. Armstrong Woods Road, 4th Street, and Mill Street are forecast to flood. The village of Northwood Grove and Monte Rio School are expected to becom inundated.
40.0 Feet Major flooding is expected along the Russian River. Many roads in Guerneville, Monte Rio, Rio Nido, and Hacienda will be flooded.
42.0Feet Major flooding is expected to occur throughout the entire reach of the lower Russian River. Many roads, homes, and businesses along the Russian River will become
44.0 Feet Major flooding is forecast to occur along the entire reach of the lower Russian River. Many roads along the reach will become inundated making travel very difficult. Some homes and businesses along the Russian River are expected to become flooded.
45.0 Feet Disastrous flooding is forecast to occur along the lower Russian River. Much of downtown Guerneville will become inundated. Many roads will flood making travel nearly impossible throughout the reach.
47.0 Feet Disastrous flooding can be expected along the Russian River. Much of Guerneville will be flooded up to the north side of Main Street. All towns along the reach will experience disastrous inundation to roads, homes, and businesses. Travel through towns along the Russian River will become impossible.
48.0 Feet Disastrous flooding can be expected for all towns along the lower Russian River. Travel in areas near the river will be impossible with many roads inundated. At least 30,000 acres of farm land will be flooded in the lower Russian River basin.
Because we live in a hilly, heavily forested region, it would be wise to prepare for any eventuality, including possible road closures, power outages, food and water shortages and other weather-related inconveniences. And don’t forget your pets. If you’re unsure about how to prepare call local Fire Departments or someone who does know and become informed.
All photos: Stephen D. Gross