After days of plentiful rain that downed trees, dropped power lines and swamped roads, the North Coast is getting a respite — along with some solace that precipitation levels are almost back to normal.
A drought-busting first half of March has helped raise rainfall totals, with Santa Rosa recording 29.2 inches to date for the season as of late Sunday afternoon, just shy of the normal 30 inches from Oct. 1 to March 13.
Rich Canepa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said that with late Sunday’s rain added in, the total for the season is “essentially 100 percent.”
Over roughly 72 hours of soaking since Thursday night, Santa Rosa registered 2.93 inches of rain.
The wettest location in Sonoma County was, as usual, the tiny spot known as Venado at the end of Mill Creek Road. The area northwest of Healdsburg received more than 7 inches since Thursday night.
The latest storms capped off 10 days of rain in the 13 days of March so far.
But this week, the North Coast will begin to dry out when warmer weather arrives, according to forecasters.
“This is pretty much the last of it for a week or so down the road,” Canepa said of the storms.
The steady rains and saturated soil led to numerous calls of toppled trees on Sunday, as well as scattered flooding, fresh potholes and occasionally stranded motorists who learned the hard way not to try to navigate flooded roads.
Trees seemed to be toppling over on an hourly basis around the area, sometimes taking power lines with them.
They came crashing down on roadways that included Franz Valley Road in Knights Valley, Main Street in Monte Rio, Jewell Avenue in Sebastopol, Woodland Drive in Guerneville, Gold Ridge Road near Bodega Highway, Trenton Road in Forestville and Highway 1 at Timber Cove.
In Windsor, a downed tree that took out power lines in the 800 block of Windsor River Road left about 112 customers in the dark Sunday night, with no estimate for when electricity would be restored.
That was the largest pocket of 220 total customers in Sonoma County still waiting for power to return.
“The Sonoma area really hasn’t been impacted too heavily throughout the storm,” PG&E spokesman J.D Guidi said.
He reminded anyone who comes across downed power lines to treat them as if they are live and extremely dangerous, and to call 911 or PG&E.
The storms have filled local reservoirs, with Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma the fullest they’ve been at this date in four years.
Despite the rain, the swollen Russian River stayed well below flood stage. In Guerneville, the river was predicted to crest at 25.7 feet at 10 a.m. today, safely below the 32-foot flood stage.
The high waters attracted a kayaking couple who were thought to be in trouble Sunday afternoon when one of them lost his paddle upstream from Rio Nido. Calls about the couple brought out emergency responders, including the sheriff’s helicopter, but both boaters managed to make it to shore safely.
“It’s good when everybody’s OK. That’s all we cared about,” Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman said.
In Mendocino County, the Navarro River was forecast to go reach 27 feet late Sunday night, four feet past flood stage.