A raging winter storm christened the New Year with surging floodwaters along the Russian and Napa rivers, power outages muting holiday celebrations and road closures that snarled travel across Northern California.
Hundreds spent New Year's Eve huddled in emergency shelters as rain threatened more trouble today.
With the Russian River expected to crest at 42.5 feet shortly after the start of the New Year, emergency operations officials "strongly discouraged" travel today because so many of the area's major arteries were clogged with water.
Few of the roads that caused so much trouble Saturday were expected to be open today. For much of Saturday, Highway 101 was closed north of Cloverdale as well as at the Marin County line.
The burgeoning Laguna de Santa Rosa cut off Sebastopol at Highway 12 and at Occidental Road. High water at Highways 12 and 121 in Sonoma made cross-county travel difficult.
And holiday travelers encountered huge delays when Interstate 80 at Fairfield was shut by high water and a landslide farther east prevented skiers from moving between Truckee and the state line.
"We have no idea when these roads will be open," CHP Sgt. Wayne Ziese said.
Weather forecasters said a fast-moving storm today would add another 1 to 2 inches of water to already saturated ground. However, forecasters said today's rain should not significantly affect the Russian or Napa rivers and levels are likely to recede.
"This next storm will send sheets of water across roadways and mudslides are possible," Ziese said. "If you can't see the roadway, don't venture out there."
Some of the worst flooding Saturday was in Napa, where as many as 1,000 homes were affected, and in Petaluma, where four mobile home parks were evacuated. The Petaluma River also surged through stores in the outlet mall and lapped the floorboards of new cars at the auto mall.
The Lucchesi Community Center opened as a shelter to about 100 residents from the mobile home parks, but later many left to see in the New Year at home.
The Red Cross also opened shelters at Analy High School in Sebastopol, the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Ukiah High and Napa High.
Fearing the brown, brackish waters of the Russian River, dozens of Guerneville residents opted to evacuate from the local Veterans Memorial Building and headed by bus for Analy High.
The river was expected to crest at 42.5 feet in Guerneville between midnight and 2 a.m. today, then drop to 34 feet by this evening. Flood stage at Guerneville is 32 feet. The river topped 40 feet at 4 p.m. and was rising steadily.
The last residents at Mirabel Trailer Park on River Road east of Guerneville cleared out by early Saturday.
Shirley Bell, the trailer park manager for nine years, said she and others pulled out Wednesday because "I'm not that much of a diehard."
By Saturday, water was up to the roof of her office.
"This is the worst flooding since I've been there," she said.
In Santa Rosa, Betty Andrews was asleep in her Alderbrook Way home when Santa Rosa Creek came out of its banks at about 4:15 a.m. and swamped the house.
When Karen Andrews and her boyfriend arrived to check on her mother, the water was three-quarters of the way up her bed.
"We woke her," Andrews said. "She said, 'Oh God. Don't tell me.' We said, 'Don't jump out of bed.'" Andrews' boyfriend carried her mother from the house.
A stunning 5.5 inches of rain fell on Guerneville in the 24 hours ending at 4 p.m. Saturday, the most recorded anywhere in Sonoma County except Cazadero. Santa Rosa recorded 4.15 inches of rain, raising the seasonal total to 21.07 inches, almost double the average for this time of the year.
Some Guerneville residents, hardened by years of threats of flooding, decided the storm was no reason to interrupt holiday plans.
Shelli Saucedo took a kayak from her home on Guerneville's Mill Street, a traditional underwater spot during flooding, though she thought her elevated house probably was safe.
"I thought I was prepared, but I just don't want to fish off my deck," she said.
A friend, Bob Henry of Sebastopol, and his brother, David, brought kayaks and David Henry donned a wet suit to go in after Saucedo. Water from Fife Creek was 6 feet deep around her house and rising.
David Henry was visiting from his home in Hannibal, Mo., on the Mississippi River, where folks know plenty about flooding.
"Looks like you all are in for one today," he said.
But at Mill and Fifth streets, Jake Schwartz said he planned to stay put for New Year's Eve in his elevated house, 16 feet above ground and presumably above the 100-year flood level.
"That's what they built these things for," he said.
Schwartz and his partner, Dana Smith, planned to pop open a bottle of champagne at midnight.