Flood watch issued as storm dumps up to six inches on Sonoma County

A drenching storm that dumped more than half a foot of rain on the wettest areas of Sonoma County early Friday caused minor flooding around the region and left emergency personnel worriedly waiting to see what would come next.

A storm on the horizon for late Saturday and Sunday morning promised significant new rainfall and — with the ground fully saturated from earlier precipitation — predicted trouble, authorities said.

"Sunday is the day we're worrying about," said Sonoma County Emergency Services Manager Chris Helgren. "...That's why we're making the recommendation that, unless you have to be out, don't."

Sonoma County Storm Flooding


The Russian River was forecast to overflow in Hopland on Sunday morning, though only by 2 or 3 feet — still enough to close Highway 175, the CHP and National Weather Service said.

A flood watch also was issued for Guerneville, though the river was expected to crest a foot below flood stage at its predicted peak on Monday morning, the weather service and state Department of Water Resources said.

The Navarro River topped its banks Friday, closing Highway 128 near the Mendocino Coast, and was expected to flood again before the weekend is through, the CHP and weather service said.

Farther south in Mendocino County, a flood on the Garcia River closed Highway 1 on Friday, the CHP said.

"Now that the ground's saturated, I think the creeks are a little quicker to come up, and we're also starting to see little mudslides along the road here," said Rancho Adobe Fire Capt. Herb Wandel in Penngrove. "That will also increase."

With yet another, weaker storm forecast to arrive Tuesday, emergency officials were just grateful for lulls between systems going through the area, permitting prodigious rainfall from each to recede somewhat before the next onslaught.

"That's sort of our saving grace at this point is those breaks between," said Pam Jeane, assistant general manager at the Sonoma County Water Agency.

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