Petaluma River reaches flood stage
Published: Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 10:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 1:06 p.m.
The Petaluma River reached flood stages Sunday as a blustery storm continued to fell trees, cut power, close roads and drench the North Coast.
A flash flood warning was extended until 4:30 p.m. Sunday for low-lying areas across the North Bay, including Petaluma and the Sonoma Valley. Emergency crews remained on high alert, as heavy rain was forecast to continue throughout the day and water drains from the hills.
“We're ready, everybody is on standby,” Petaluma Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Schach said.
The intense storm walloped the North Coast throughout the morning, cutting power for more than 2,000 customers.
At least an inch of water flooded a house north of Healdsburg on Terra Holland Lane off Alexander Valley Road.
Downed power lines and a tree closed Highway 12 near Watmaugh Road south of Sonoma. Mud slides blocked Highway 128 west of Cloverdale and closed Annapolis Road east of Highway 1.
Flood waters consumed roads across the county.
Among them, Eastside Road between Trenton Healdsburg Road and Windsor River Road and Green Valley Road between Thomas and Sullivan roads were impassible.
Petaluma received 0.87 inches of rain during the 24 hours ending 8 a.m. Sunday. Cloverdale received 1.3 inches and 0.46 inches fell at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.
About another inch will fall by Sunday's end, said meteorologist Diane Henderson with the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service issued the flash flood warning at 8:45 a.m.
Stream gages 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.
Sonoma Creek waters rapidly rose, reaching nearly 18 feet as of 8:45 a.m., according to the Sonoma County Water Agency.
The power was out in patches throughout the county for at least 2,390 customers around noon.The largest power outages were reported in West County neighborhoods, including 850 people without power in Occidental and 707 in Guerneville.
Faulty equipment caused power failures in the Russian River area, and the Sebastopol-area outages were storm related, PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris said.
Smaller power failures peppered the county.
People shopped in the dark at Copperfield's Books in Montgomery Village.
Several vehicles slid off roads throughout the North Coast, and one single-car crash closed the Highway 101 Airport Boulevard off-ramp as crews worked to remove a grey Acura that hit a utility pole.
Tree debris fell onto a home on Jesse Street in Sebastopol.
A motorist became trapped when trying to drive through standing water at Freestone Valley Ford and Freestone Ranch roads and became stuck.
Gusty winds and 10-to-11 foot swells kept most boats out of the water, Coast Guard Bodega Bay officials said.
In Petaluma, fire crews 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 course through the north Petaluma neighborhood just east of Highway 101. Nearby, Industrial Avenue partially disappeared under water, but nearby businesses so far were spared, Schach said.
Water will continue to course down the hillsides into low lying areas of Petaluma, said Schach.
“Some of our worst flooding can happen hours after the rain stops,” Schach said.
Sandbags were available in front of a cement plant on Hopper Street near Lakeville.
Petaluma police reported no major trouble yet due to the storm.
“So far so good, and the outgoing tide is supposed to be strong,” Petaluma Police Sgt. Marty Frye said.
For a complete list of road closures in Sonoma County, visit http://roadconditions.sonoma-county.org.
Search for Cal Trans road condition alerts at http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi
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