USA -1 Dead as Flooding Continues in Northern California

Rivers in northern California are still high after record-breaking rain brought by an atmospheric river earlier this week.

Russian River flooding in Guerneville, California. Photo: Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office

One man has died after being swept away by flood water from the overflowing Eel River in Ferndale, Humbolt County, late on 27 February, 2019.

The National Weather Service reported that Eel River at Fernbridge crested at 25.67 feet on 27 February, the fifth highest crest on record. Major flood stage for that point in the river is 25 feet.

Following evacuation orders in Sonoma County, some evacuations were also ordered in Rock Creek and Chico in Butte County due to flood threat. Butte County Sheriff’s Office said Search and Rescue responded to assist 6 people standing on top of a vehicle after their 3 vehicles became stuck in a flooded roadway.

Meanwhile flooding from the Russian River has reportedly damaged at least 2,000 buildings, mostly in the town of Guerneville and other parts of Sonoma County. Around 10 high water rescues were carried out in areas around Grafton.

The Russian river hit 45.38 feet late on 27 February, it’s sixth highest crest on record and well above major flood stage of 40 feet. Levels are expected to drop over the coming days.

On 28 February California Governor, Gavin Newsom, issued an emergency proclamation for the counties of Amador, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma to help communities respond to and recover from the dangerous flooding, mudslides and damage to critical infrastructure.

Eel river at Fernbridge. Image: NWS
Russian River at Guerneville 01 March 2019. Image; NWS

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Flood Summary

Last updated: March 8, 2019
Event
California, February to March 2019
Date
February 26, 2019
Type
River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall
Heavy rain brought by an atmospheric river, caused rivers to overflow in Northern California from 26 February, 2019. NWS forecast the Russian River at Guerneville in Sonoma County would reach 46 feet by Wednesday 27 February, which is 14 feet above its flood stage. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued on 26 February for thousands of people living in over 20 communities along the river. Roads have been closed and there is a high risk of mudslides The evacuated communities are: Asti, Bailhache, Chianti, Guerneville, Guernewood, Guernewood Park, Hacienda, Jenner, Jimtown, Korbel, Lytton, Northwood, Northwood Lodge, Rolands, Sheridan, Duncans Mills, El Bonita, Mirabel Heights, Mirabel Park, Monte Rio, Montesano, Summerhome Park, Vacation Beach and Wilson Grove. As of 28 February, Associated Press reported that around 2,000 homes had been inundated in the Guerneville area. Another Pacific storm brought more severe weather and heavy rains to California from 06 March, 2019. Severe flooding was reported in Sonora. NWS Sacramento said that 0.92 inches / 23.37 mm of rain fell in 1 hour in Sonora on 06 March, 2019.

Locations

A - Sonoma County
B - Butte County
C - Fernbridge, Loleta, Humboldt County
D - Sonora
E - Russian River at Guerneville - River level 13.83 metres
F - Venado - Rainfall level 520.19 mm in 48 hours
G - Santa Rosa - Rainfall level 141.22 mm in 24 hours
H - Eel River at Fernbridge - River level 7.82 metres

Magnitude

River level
13.83 metres
Russian River at Guerneville - February 27 to February 27, 2019
On 27 February jumped from 38.74 feet and crested at 45.38 feet (13.83 metres) . Major flood stage is 40 feet. Record is 49.5 feet.
Rainfall level
520.19 mm in 48 hours
Venado - February 25 to February 27, 2019
NWS Bay Area figures (only available for 48 hour period)
Rainfall level
141.22 mm in 24 hours
Santa Rosa - February 26 to February 26, 2019
NWS Bay Area said this is the wettest day on record for Santa Rosa.
River level
7.82 metres
Eel River at Fernbridge - February 27 to February 27, 2019
Eel River at Fernbridge crested at 25.67 feet on 27 February, the fifth highest crest on record. Major flood stage for that point in the river is 25 feet.

Damages

Evacuated
3,500
Sonoma County - February 26, 2019
Estimated figure: Authorities issued a mandatory evacuation notice for over 20 communities. As of 27 February, exact numbers of evacuees were not available and some reports suggested that not all residents had heeded evacuation advice.
Buildings damaged
2000 buildings
Sonoma County - February 26 to February 28, 2019
As of 28 February most of the damaged homes were in the Guerneville area.
Fatalities
1 person
Fernbridge, Loleta, Humboldt County - March 27 to March 27, 2019