"It's a good soaking, but we need a lot more," water agency spokesman Brad Sherwood said. "It's not a drought buster."
The 3.34 inches of rain recorded for Santa Rosa for the 24 hours from 4 p.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Saturday amounted to nearly half of what's fallen to date this season — 7.64 inches.
That's only a third of the 23.43 inches that's considered seasonal average by this date, said Bob Benjamin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
It would take another 6 inches to 7 inches just to reach rainfall totals from 1977, "the worst drought year we remember," water agency representative Ann DuBay said.
"We're just reminding people, once again, that even though this rain is terrific, and we are thrilled to see it, that we are still in a drought," DuBay said. "It's going to take a lot more rain before we can even get to a normal water year, so we are just encouraging people to continue to conserve."
Cazadero resident Eric Sturtevant may be a hard-sell, however. Sturtevant emptied his rain gauge Feb. 1 and by Saturday had collected more than 17 inches of rainfall, he said.
"Back in the 70s, we used to get rain really hard like this, but this is most extreme," he said. "It's huge."
Most of Sonoma County had 24-hour totals were in the 2-inch to 4-inch range, while Sebastopol came in with 5.95 inches, Sonoma had 6.5 inches, and Guerneville had 6.
Cazadero's official rainfall total was 8.76 inches by 4 p.m. Saturday, but around the hills, some folks with gauges reported upwards of 12 to 14 inches, Fort Ross Fire Chief Paul Ginesi said.
Readings from Lakes Sonoma and Mendocino that would reflect the most recent influx of rain were not available before midnight Saturday, and the levels were expected to rise for several days before the full measure of the storm was clear, water agency personnel said.
But already, gauges on the Russian River demonstrated significantly swelling - the flow rate at the Hacienda Bridge, for instance, rising from just more than 500 cubic feet per second at midnight to 4,410 cfs by 7:15 p.m. Saturday.
There were also signs that steelhead waiting downstream for months to spawn were finally moving upstream and, likely, coho salmon, as well, DuBay said. The flow has been so low that the Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday voted to close it anglers through April 30, though the closure doesn't take effect for another two weeks or so.
Saturday's rain fell heaviest during the morning, inundating local waterways and raising levels so fast the weather service issued a flash-flood warning for much of Sonoma County.
The alert sent fire personnel to scout traditional problem areas around the west and south county areas, but they more often found surface flooding related to clogged drainage and culverts than streams overflowing their banks.
Surface flooding temporarily closed several roads that are usually the first to go under in heavy rain: Highway 1 at Valley Ford Road; Green Valley Road at Ross Road, and Graton Road, in Graton; Skylane at Aviation Boulevard in north Santa Rosa; Stony Point Road at Rohnert Park Expressway, and Scenic and Langner avenues near Rohnert Park; and Highway 12 and 121 south of Sonoma, among them.