Storm lets up, but aftereffects will linger
Road closures and flood watches remain in effect
Published: Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 6:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 24, 2012 at 9:24 a.m.
Even with blue sky, sunshine and a smattering of clouds forecast for today, the aftereffects of a ferocious storm were expected to linger.
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The storm let up late Sunday after three days of blustery rainfall that pummeled the North Coast. Flooding and storm damage were expected to leave some roads closed, and hundreds of customers may remain without power in western Sonoma County.
The Russian River will continue to rise through this morning. A flood watch was in effect Sunday in Guerneville, where the river could crest early today near flood levels.
Since Friday, storms have dropped between 1.5 inches of rain in low-lying areas and more than 8.5 inches in the hills.
"With the amount of water and wind we got, we really lucked out on this one," Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman said.
With soaked earth and gusty winds, trees crashed to the ground, closing roads from Sonoma to Mendocino. A 150-foot pine smashed the second story of a house in Forestville.
Cars skidded and crashed on slick roads, but no major injuries were reported. Residents of a north Healdsburg home mopped up about an inch of water that seeped inside.
Sonoma County road crews were out in force.
"It was quite a storm, but most of the flooding was in the usual spots," said Rob Silva, Sonoma County's roads operations manager.
Stony Point Road in Cotati was closed Sunday after a culvert collapsed during the vigorous storm. The 48-inch culvert caved in and left behind a 10-foot hole in the roadway in front of the Sports City indoor soccer complex south of Highway 116 near Madrone Avenue, county officials said.
Engineers were installing massive steel plates to reopen the road by nightfall Sunday. Today, the road may be reduced to one lane of traffic or completely closed again as crews devise a more permanent repair.
Mudslides blocked Highway 128 west of Cloverdale and closed Annapolis Road east of Highway 1.
In the Sonoma Valley, downed power lines and a fallen tree closed Highway 12 for hours near Watmaugh Road, south of Sonoma. The highway had reopened by late Sunday.
Sonoma Creek flooded some areas of Glen Ellen.
On Sunday, 1.64 inches of rain fell in Petaluma, 1.59 in Santa Rosa, 1.70 in Bodega Bay. In Mendocino County, 2 inches of rain fell in Ukiah and 1.61 in Fort Bragg. Lakeport received 1.10 inches and Middletown 1.64 inches.
The power was out in patches around Sonoma County for about 2,400 customers throughout the afternoon. All but about 900 customers had power restored by late evening.
By 8:30 p.m., there were 29 separate power failures in the Sonoma County area, PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris said. The largest, 189 customers in Monte Rio and Bohemian Grove, were expected to have power by midnight.
It wasn't clear when other smaller scattered outages would be fixed, but Morris said crews would work through the night as long as it was safe to do so.
Gusty winds and 10- to 11-foot swells kept most boats in port, Coast Guard officials in Bodega Bay said.
Faulty equipment caused power failures in the Russian River area, and Sebastopol-area blackouts were storm-related, Morris said.
During the deluge, a motorist became trapped for hours after trying to drive through standing water at Freestone Valley Ford and Freestone Ranch roads until crews helped retrieve the car. Those roads were expected to remain closed this morning, Silva said.
A blue van full of people stalled in knee-deep water on Graton Road. The people were trapped in the car for at least 20 minutes until fire crews rescued them.
The National Weather Service issued the flash-flood warning for the Petaluma River and other low-lying areas including the Sonoma Creek.
Stream gauges at Willow Brook at Penngrove Park, Willow Brook at the Old Redwood Highway Bridge and Willow Brook at Stony Point Road were at or above flood levels.
Firefighters parked an engine at the Leisure Lake Mobile Home Park off Stony Point Road north of Rainsville Road, a neighborhood that can get marooned by floodwaters. The river and several tributary creeks flow through the north Petaluma neighborhood just east of Highway 101.
Nearby, Industrial Avenue partially disappeared underwater, but businesses so far were spared, Schach said.
Water will continue to course down the hillsides into low-lying areas of Petaluma, Schach said. "Some of our worst flooding can happen hours after the rain stops."
For a complete list of road closures in Sonoma County, visit roadconditions.sonoma-county.org.
Search for Caltrans road condition alerts at dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi
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