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As loud cracking sounds split the air and their house began to shake Sunday night, a Guerneville couple knew what was coming — a huge tree falling their way.

The fir tree smashed into Doug and Beth Snow’s Orchard Road home as well as their neighbor’s house around 9 p.m. — the aftermath of almost two weeks of rain that loosened soil and led to myriad problems around the county.

Although Monday was dry, Sonoma County road crews and firefighters continued to deal with rockslides and standing water that left several roads closed to traffic.

On Monday afternoon, Beth Snow recalled that she and her husband had been concerned about falling trees in the wake of the stormy weather. As they watched television Sunday night, the concern became real.

“All of a sudden it sounded like a train was coming through the house,” Snow said. “We knew what it was. It was so loud you could tell it was really close. The scary thing is, you don’t know where to go. You don’t know where it’s going to land.”

The longtime Guerneville residents got under a doorway until the shaking stopped. As the strong smell of fir tree filled the home, they knew the damage was probably bad.

The large tree happened to fall in a narrow area between the Snows’ home and a neighbor’s, causing significant damage to both residences as branches punctured the roofs and broke through walls into bedrooms. But the trunk’s serendipitous landing between the homes prevented what could have been far worse destruction and the injury or death of someone inside.

At the Snow home, two branches pierced the ceiling of one bedroom and then poked back up through the roof again. Snow joked that the sight of a large branch extending across the ceiling was a distinctive feature they could consider leaving.

The damage could have been worse, Snow said. No pictures fell off the walls, nothing was knocked over and key structural areas weren’t badly damaged, she said.

Her husband’s red pickup, however, was demolished when part of the tree slammed into where it was parked outside.

“We were wondering what to do with it anyway,” she said of the vehicle. “So that’s solved.”

Damage to the Snows’ neighbor’s home was more extensive. The homeowner declined to be interviewed.

As with other large trees that toppled over during the recent rains — damaging at least two other west county homes — the roots of the fir had been pulled up out of the soggy soil. The fallen tree stretched between the two houses, across the street and into a neighbor’s yard, Snow said.

“We were all very fortunate it decided to land between the houses,” she said. “It was a bit of a miracle.”

The tree’s crash capped more than three days of steady storms that brought almost 3 inches of rain to Santa Rosa and more than 7 inches in the county’s wettest micro-climates, including the hills northwest of Healdsburg.

Thanks to the El Niño weather pattern, Santa Rosa has received 98 percent of its average rainfall for the period beginning Oct. 1 — a total of 29.2 inches, said Diana Henderson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

Santa Rosa has logged 9.12 inches of rain in March, more than four inches above normal.

Read all of the PD's fire coverage here

However, the rest of the week should match Monday’s dry conditions, forecasters said.

A strong high-pressure ridge was building in over the region Monday, bringing high temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s toward the end of the week.

There is a 20-30 percent chance of rain this weekend, the weather service said.

Rainfall is likely to subside in Sonoma County over the next two months, said Jack Boston, a senior meteorologist for Accuweather.

He predicted only two potential significant storms for the rest of the month, one around March 25 and another March 29.

“The wet season virtually shuts off in April and May,” Boston said.

While there had been concern late last week that the daily rainfall would add up to serious flooding problems on local waterways, the Russian River in Guerneville topped out below well below the 32-foot flood stage.

The river crested at 25.6 feet at 11 a.m. Monday and was expected to rapidly decrease over the next few days.

Russian River at Guerneville

On Monday morning, six Sonoma County roads remained closed due to flooding. By the afternoon, Valley Ford Road at Highway 1 was open, as was Mark West Station Road at Starr Road, said Jennifer Larouque, public information officer for the county’s public work’s department.

In west Sonoma County, Green Valley Road between Ross and Sullivan roads — and north of Sullivan at the S turns — remained closed.

Sanford Road between Occidental and Hall roads, Wohler Road at Mark West Creek just off of River Road and Trenton Road between River and Laguna roads were also shut.

“The ground is so saturated — we think that’s why it’s taking a while for it to run off,” Larouque said.

Five slides happened on Annapolis Road during the weekend, including one that brought a massive boulder down onto the remote coast route, about 2½ miles from Highway 1, said Rob Silva, Sonoma County’s road maintenance division manager.

Silva said a road crew spent much of Sunday clearing the slide so the road would be open for Monday’s school bus commute.

In eastern Sonoma County, Highway 121 in Schellville was closed between Arnold Drive and Highway 12 for several hours due to flooding but was clear by Monday afternoon, the CHP said.

In eastern Napa County, a five-mile stretch of Highway 121 could remain closed for about a month after the storms eroded a large area of roadway.

The rural highway is closed between Highway 128 and Wooden Valley Road, near the community of Circle Oaks. Until the road is repaired, the area will be open only for residents and emergency vehicles, CHP Officer Marc Renspurger said.

Flooding and slides also closed several sections of highways 1 and 128 in Mendocino County. Flooding closed Highway 1 at the Garcia River, north of Point Arena, and an 11-mile stretch of Highway 128 east of Highway 1 remained shut.

CHP Officer Jon Sloat said some drivers on Monday were ignoring road closure signs and trying to drive through standing water.

Forestville firefighters were called to Wohler Road near River Road at 9:10 a.m. Monday for a driver who’d headed into a flooded area.

“They ignored the ‘flooded’ sign and drove through. He got stuck,” Sloat said.

A tow truck was needed to get the vehicle out of the water after the driver was rescued by Forestville firefighters and cousins Mike and Chuck Franceschi. Chuck carried the driver to dry land on his back.

Drivers who insist on trying to get through flooded areas risk their own safety and often waste the time of emergency responders who may be needed elsewhere, Sloat said.

“You’ve tied up Henry 1, you’d tied up the fire department, you’ve tied up us,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport.

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