Heavier rain misses northern Sonoma County, but another storm headed our way
Anticipation for what damage would result from the ongoing rainstorms abated Saturday morning after the heavier downpours rolled through the southern portions of Sonoma County, according to local officials.
Trees were downed across Sonoma County, especially in the coastal areas such as Timber Cove and Monte Rio, and slides on Geysers Road in Cloverdale meant a road closure Saturday.
But overall, reports did not increase past the normal call volume during winter storms, according to authorities.
More flooding and potentially dangerous conditions are expected next week, as another storm is anticipated to dump about 3 to 6 inches across an already soaked Sonoma County where it has been raining since Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
While New Year’s Day is expected to be dry, the next storm and atmospheric river are set to roll through the North Bay early next week, bringing more possibilities for landslides and flooding, said Brooke Bingaman, a meteorologist for the weather service’s Monterey office.
“If we don’t see a lot of impacts on Dec. 31 we will definitely see them by the storm on Jan. 4 and 5,” she said. “It could be a messy start to 2023.”
An atmospheric river — a long, flowing region of the atmosphere that carries water vapor through the air — entered the southern portion of Sonoma County and the northern region of Marin County around 4 a.m. Friday. It continued to move south, drenching the Bay Area, causing greater damage from the storm, Bingaman said.
The northern portions of Sonoma County were not hit by the heavier downpours, Bingaman said.
Since the storm began, the interior valleys of Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, have seen about 2 to 3.5 inches of rain. The coastal mountain ranges received 4 to 6 inches, with Monte Rio seeing about 5.9 inches.
Mount Tamalpais in Marin County has received 8.15 inches, Bingaman said.
Multiple streams and creeks were at risk of flooding Saturday, including Colgan Creek near Sebastopol and Green Valley Creek near Forestville, which were both at minor flood stage at 11:30 a.m., according to the weather service.
The Russian River rose to 18.6 feet Saturday morning in Hopland, topping its 15-foot flood stage, according to the weather service. In Guerneville, the water is expected to peak early Sunday just over 22 feet; flood stage there is 32 feet.
The Timber Cove Fire Protection District responded to at least 10 reports of fallen trees, many of which caused road closures on Highway 1, said the agency’s Fire Chief Erich Lynn.
Lynn said the combination of the increased rainfall and the wind has brought down a higher number of trees this winter in comparison to previous years.
“We have had more in the last week or two than what we have had the last couple of years,” he said, referring to downed trees.
The Santa Rosa Fire Department responded Friday night to a report of a power outage caused by the storm in Rincon Valley, said Paul Lowenthal, division chief fire marshal for the agency.
About 700 Pacific Gas & Electric customers lost power, which was restored as of noon Saturday.
Lowenthal said that Saturday morning and the night before had been “relatively quiet,” with mainly a slight increase in water levels for the Santa Rosa Creek.
There have been no issues around the 2020 Glass Fire burn scar, though the department will continue to monitor that area, Lowenthal said.
“It seemed to be more of a beneficial storm versus a damaging storm” he said. “We’re not seeing any major issues, at least here locally.”
Santa Rosa Fire will continue to keep all of its swift water rescue equipment hooked up, especially in anticipation of next week’s storm, Lowenthal said.
Bingaman cautioned that people should still be careful driving after the rain stops and continue to be on the lookout for standing water and downed trees.
The wet weather pattern continues until mid-January, meaning the soils will stay wet for “quite some time,” increasing the chances for fallen trees and mudslides, Bingaman said. Additionally, hazards can take up to one week to appear, so residents and drivers need to continue to monitor the surrounding conditions.
You can reach Staff Writer Madison Smalstig at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @madi.smals.
UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy: