With lakes and rivers rising, residents prepare for more storms in the Sacramento region

Rivers swell after December storms, sending more debris and lifting boats higher

Storms that swept through Northern California in December washed trees and junk down the Sacramento River, causing concern for boaters.
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Storms that swept through Northern California in December washed trees and junk down the Sacramento River, causing concern for boaters.

The rain is coming and the rivers are rising, which means potentially dangerous flotsam and jetsam will be heading down local waterways.

Increased flows from Folsom Lake and the anticipation of a gully washer of a storm Thursday mean that the American and Sacramento rivers will be rising. At Sacramento Yacht Club on the Yolo County side of the river, the water level was going up Monday.

Boat owners were securing lines to their boats to keep them more securely moored in the faster river flow. And boat owners were on the alert for floating debris.

“They say the river is coming up 10 feet,” said yacht club vice commodore Phil Chovanec. “There’s going to be a lot of debris floating downriver. All the loose logs that have fallen over the last year will be coming down at a fast pace.”

Boat owners have sustained damage in previous years at the yacht club from sodden logs. And it’s not only trees that float downstream.

“You won’t believe the stuff we have seen floating down river,” Chovanec said. “We’ve seen refrigerators, propane tanks, car parts. Last year we saw a dead cow floating by.”

Meteorologist Brooke Bingaman with the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service said the weather will be wet from Tuesday to Friday. The second wave of weather on Thursday will bring quite a bit of rain.

“The bottom line is that Thursday is going to be a doozy,” Bingaman said.

For Sacramento, the Tuesday and Wednesday system will probably only bring up to a quarter of an inch. The rain that starts early Thursday could bring about 1.5 inches to Sacramento.

“Besides getting a lot of rain, it will be pretty gusty,” Bingaman said. “Winds will be 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 40.”

Small streams will rise and a flood watch will be issued from Tuesday through Thursday night.

“We are not talking river flooding,” she said. “This is for small streams that don’t have good drainage. The typical spots.”

Snow levels will start high Thursday and drop Thursday night and into Friday.

Louis Moore, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said that 30,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water is coming into Folsom Lake. Based on the forecast, it looks like that kind of flow into the lake will continue.

Folsom Lake went from 49 percent of total capacity before the weekend storm to 61 percent afterward. The lake was at 127 percent of its historical average for Dec. 11.

“That runoff helps us develop our storage, but at the same time we have to manage the storage within our flood-control ranges,” Moore said. “So we are making some adjustments to our releases.”

In the next couple of days, releases into the American River could go from 3,500 cfs to 8,000 cfs below Nimbus Dam by Wednesday.

“There’s plenty of room in the river,” he said.

The south fork of the Yuba River flows rapidly in the Donner Summit area near Truckee. Sandbags are available at Truckee Fire Station 92 on Donner Pass Road, according to the Truckee Fire Department.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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