Weather News

Rain shattered records Tuesday, flooding continues. Here’s when Sacramento will be dry

It’s still wet, it’s still windy and it’s still not a good idea to travel through the Sierra Nevada unless absolutely necessary.

Northern California will see lighter, more scattered precipitation Wednesday compared to Tuesday’s downpour, but National Weather Service warns that flood risk will continue through Thursday.

NWS Sacramento forecaster Hannah Chandler-Cooley said showers will be spotty and light through Thursday in the Sacramento Valley after rain broke records earlier in the week.

“Friday’s looking pretty dry,” Chandler-Cooley said. “One dry day before another weather system comes in this weekend.”

A milder system starting late Friday night will drop between a half-inch and an inch of rain in the valley through Sunday, and another foot to 3 feet of snow in the mountains, Chandler-Cooley said.

Heavier winds have also started to hit the Sacramento Valley, with gusts up to 40 mph observed during morning commute hours in Sacramento, according to Chandler-Cooley.

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Flooding has one town ‘land locked’

NWS Sacramento has a flood warning in place for the entire valley through late Thursday night, noting the foothills could get another 3 to 6 inches of precipitation between now and then.

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office tweeted Wednesday morning that the town of Guerneville was “land locked,” as all roads leading into the area have flooded. The town has a population of about 4,500, and about 4,000 people in and near Guerneville were issued evacuation orders Tuesday.

Butte County Sheriff’s Office sent evacuation warnings to parts of Chico at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday due to flooding of Keefer Slough.

In Sacramento, both branches of Dry Creek were more than 2 inches above flood level as of 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. Arcade Creek at ARC was holding steady above 75 feet as of that same time, about an inch shy of flood stage.

Cache Creek at Rumsey in Yolo County was above flood stage as of 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, NWS said in a report. The creek is forecast to reach flood stage again early Wednesday afternoon, NWS said.

Cache Creek flooding affects local orchards and farmland.

The Sacramento Fire Department reported crews rescued a man whose vehicle got stuck in flood waters after he ignored cones near Highway 160 and Northgate Boulevard. “No injuries. Just bad decisions,” the Fire Department tweeted.

Localized flooding along the Sacramento River is expected to continue into “at least next week,” NWS tweeted.

Record-breaking rain drenches Sacramento

This week’s atmospheric river system dumped 2.52 inches of rain Tuesday in downtown Sacramento, blowing past a previous record of 1.46 inches for Feb. 26 set in 1940, according to preliminary NWS data.

Rainfall of 1.85 inches doubled the daily record at Sacramento Executive Airport, shattering the previous record of 0.77 inches (2007).

The rain will ease up in Sacramento, with between a quarter- and half-inch expected Wednesday and Thursday.

Keep avoiding the mountains

The snowstorm in the mountains will continue to make travel through the Sierra dangerous if not impossible, with whiteout conditions possible at times.

Snow levels will rise to about 6,000 feet Wednesday, before to between 1,500 and 3,500 feet Thursday night. Moderate to heavy snowfall will continue through Thursday, NWS says.

Much of the northern Sierra range saw 3 feet or more of snow over the 24-hour period ending 7:30 a.m. Wednesday

Snow removal and poor conditions kept Interstate 80 closed overnight between Colfax and the Nevada stateline, with no estimated time of reopening as of 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, Caltrans and NWS Reno said.

Sacramento commuters still spinning out

Traffic issues in the Sacramento area were less severe during early Wednesday commute hours compared to Tuesday, but California Highway Patrol incident logs are still showing spinouts and minor collisions.

Commuters appear to be plugging along slowly, as seen in Caltrans live traffic cameras, but with the most significant delays appearing on Highway 99 at Elkhorn Boulevard.

Caltrans reported a jackknifed big rig blocked three lanes of southbound Highway 99 in Elk Grove for a couple of hours starting at about 2 a.m., which has since been cleared.

Chain controls continue throughout the mountains, as well as I-80 remaining closed at Colfax, Highway 50 periodically closing along summit passes and numerous other highways implementing closures due to snow.

Looking ahead

Forecaster Chandler-Cooley said Friday should be relatively dry in Sacramento, and that the weekend system will not be nearly as wet as the storm currently passing through.

Travel is still strongly discouraged through the mountains at this point, but Friday and Monday may be the best travel days, she said, particularly for those currently stuck in the Sierra.

As for flood risks, localized flooding of creeks, streams and roadways should start to fade by the end of the week, but that’s not a guarantee.

“It’s hard to say at this point,” Chandler-Cooley said. “Hopefully, since the bulk of rain will be ending today. Now that it’s becoming showery, hopefully those flooding concerns will die down by tomorrow or Friday.”

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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