Sacramento River flows near capacity past downtown and waterfront
Here’s the latest news on the Sacramento area weather.
Truckee Tahoe Airport to serve as overnight emergency shelter
4:41 p.m.: Placer County has opened an emergency overnight shelter at Truckee Tahoe Airport, noting that many residents are still without power due to storm-related outages, and more snow is forecast with intermittent road closures.
The airport opened earlier in the day as a warming center and place where people could charge their phones, and will remain open for people in need of nighttime shelter. Service animals will be the only pets allowed inside the shelter, according to a county news release. The airport is located at 10356 Truckee Airport Road, Truckee.
The North Tahoe Public Utility District offices at 221 Fairway Drive in Tahoe City also will remain open overnight, but only as a warming and cell phone charging site.
Portion of Highway 113 closed
Highway 113 between Creed Road and Hay Road, just south of the city of Dixon in Solano County, remains closed after a section of the highway was undermined during this week’s rainstorms, the California Department of Transportation reports.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there was no estimated time of reopening, according to Caltrans.
During the closure, Caltrans advises motorists to use Highway 12, Interstate 80 as alternate routes between Fairfield, Dixon, Vacaville and the Delta region.
Warming, phone charging centers opened following power outage
Extensive blizzard-related power outages prompted Placer County to open four warming/phone charging centers Wednesday in the North Lake Tahoe area. The centers are at:
▪ Tahoe City Public Utility District, 221 Fairway Drive, Tahoe City
▪ North Tahoe Public Utility District, 875 National Ave., Tahoe Vista
▪ Truckee Tahoe Airport, 10356 Truckee Airport Road, Truckee
▪ Squaw Valley Fire Department, 305 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley.
People should not expect food or water at the centers, and pets are not allowed, according to a county news release.
Caltrans provides update on Sierra highways affected by storm
California Department of Transportation crews were working Wednesday to clear snow and debris from Sierra highways following Tuesday’s storm.
▪ Highway 20, north of Nevada City was closed to non-local traffic because of heavy snowfall and to prevent motorists from entering the closed portion of Interstate 80 at Yuba Gap, according to a Caltrans news release. With the reopening of I-80, Highway 20 was reported open Wednesday afternoon with chain controls from Washington Road/Vista Point to Yuba Gap.
▪ Highway 49 between Nevada City and Sierraville suffered several rock and mudslides as a result of rain and heavy snow. Caltrans reported that 63 miles of highway was closed Wednesday afternoon for debris removal, and the risk for further debris flows remained with continuing precipitation.
▪ Highway 50 over Echo Summer to South Lake Tahoe was open Wednesday afternoon with chain controls. Traffic may be halted intermittently for avalanche control activities, according to the Caltrans news release.
▪ Highway 89 over Emerald Bay was closed because of avalanche hazards. Motorists were required to carry chains even for four- or all-wheel drive vehicles with mud- and snow-rated tires.
▪ On Highway 267, Caltrans advised that motorists using cable, or ladder chains may be turned around at the Northstar and Kings Beach chain control checkpoints because cable chains have proven ineffective when attempting to drive over Brockway Summit during snow storms. Motorists were advised to use Highway 89 as an alternative route.
Interstate 80 reopens at Donner Pass
The California Department of Transportation reports that Interstate 80 has reopened at Donner Pass in both directions. There is single file-chain control and a 30 mph speed limit is being strictly enforced, according to Caltrans.
Bake sales pay for church flood insurance
Last year, the Church of Rio Linda on Dry Creek Road raised more than $10,000 at bake sales to purchase flood insurance for 2017. Wednesday morning, 2 feet of water flooded the church as Dry Creek swelled around it.
Robert Sanchez, a Rio Linda resident and churchgoer, said this is not the first time the church has been under water.
“It’s happened probably nine times in the 30 years I have been here,” Sanchez said.
Bob Royer has been church pastor for 36 years. “The job of cleaning up is the worst,” Royer said.
The other stressful part, he said, is that the insurance increases rapidly every year.
“It was $9,000 last year and this year it is $11,700,” Royer said. In 2015, the insurance was $7,000.
“Fortunately, a lot of people are ready to help,” Sanchez said. “The pies are great.”
Sacramento River rises to highest point since 1997
The Sacramento River hit depths of more than 29 feet at the Tower Bridge early Wednesday, its highest level since the floods of 1997, according to data from the state Department of Water Resources.
About 5.4 inches of rain fell in Sacramento from Saturday through Tuesday, more than a quarter of the city’s typical annual rainfall – in less than a week. Officials began releasing a large amount of water from Lake Shasta into the Sacramento River Tuesday evening to make space for more precipitation.
These pictures were taken Wednesday morning by local social media guru Thomas Dodson.
Flooding closes on-ramp, off-ramp
Closure reported on ramps leading to Highway 99 on Dillard Road, south of Elk Grove:
Rio Linda ranch inundated by rising waters
Rio Linda residents were drying out on Wednesday but there was plenty of mud and water in fields and paddocks.
A ranch in the 6500 block of Dry Creek Road with horses, cattle, pigs and chickens was quite a sodden mess. Neighbor Lisa Baker has been helping check on the livestock.
None of the animals were hurt. “I think we lucked out,” Baker said.
Road washed out in Placer County
Heavy flows in a creek swelled by incessant precipitation from the storms hammering the region washed out part of a road in Placer County near Interstate 80 in the community of Alta.
The California Highway Patrol said that both lanes of a portion of Morton Road on the south side of the freeway collapsed on Tuesday. A CHP officer said nobody was hurt in the washout but urged people to stay away from the area.
Canyon Creek once flowed through a culvert underneath the road. Heavy runoff from precipitation dropped by the enduring storms of the last several days proved too much for the culvert to accommodate, washing away large amounts of soil, the culvert and the pavement of Morton Road.
Sacramento, American rivers to run high for next several days
Wednesday morning brought a much-anticipated break in the storms, with the sun peaking through the clouds in parts of Sacramento, allowing many of the swollen rivers in Northern California to begin subsiding.
“It looks like a lot of the rivers that had been rising again have mostly crested,” said hydrologist Alan Haynes of the federal government’s California Nevada River Forecast Center. “A lot of them are still above flood stage but they're coming down.”
He said the Cosumnes River near Wilton, while still riding high, receded to just below flood stage earlier Wednesday. Close to the coast, the Russian River at Guerneville was still above flood stage. The Mokelumne River at Benson’s Ferry, in far southern Sacramento County, wasn’t expected to fall below flood stage until early Friday.
Haynes said Sacramentans will continue to see the Sacramento and American rivers continuing to run high over the next few days, even as the weather improves, because of flood-safety releases from upstream reservoirs. He said he expects the Sacramento Weir, the flood safety valve on the Sacramento River 4 miles north of downtown, to continue releasing water into the Yolo Bypass for a few more days.
“There’s still quite a bit of water coming down from the north, and from Folsom,” he said. “Everything’s going to stay high for a while.”
The American River was running at about 60,000 cubic feet per second downstream from Folsom, he said. That’s about four times as strong as a week ago, before the big storms began.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced it had also ramped up releases from Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir, increasing the flows along the Sacramento River.
Haynes acknowledged that the second wave of storms produced somewhat higher flows than previously expected. The second wave was more intense than previously believed, and came sooner than expected, which meant the system didn’t have much of a chance to dry out from the weekend storms.
“We didn’t get as much of a break as we thought. The rivers didn’t get a chance to recede,” he said.
Snow resorts get many feet of new snow
More than 4 feet of snow fell at some Sierra Nevada ski resorts in the past 24 hours.
Kingvale Resort off Interstate 80 received 4 feet 10 inches in 24 hours and more than 6 feet in the last 48 inches. Sugar Bowl received nearly the same amount of snow.
Squaw Valley and Alpine resorts received more than 2 feet of snow in the last 24 hours. However, the resorts were closed Wednesday due to a power outage.
Along Highway 50, Sierra-at-Tahoe resort accumulated 3 feet of snow in the past 24 hours. Sierra-at-Tahoe was also closed Wednesday.
“The conditions make it difficult to operate the (mountain) safely. Snow, low visibility, high winds, and (avalanche) danger exist all over the (moutain)” the resort tweeted.
Wilton area still an area of concern for flooding
The Cosumnes River remained one of the most worrisome spots in the Sacramento area, although emergency officials said they believed problems were fairly limited early Wednesday. Officials said it didn't appear that any residents of Wilton, the tiny hamlet facing the most danger from the Cosumnes, had heeded the call for voluntary evacuation.
Mike McLaughlin, deputy chief at the Cosumnes fire department, said the biggest emergency early Wednesday was two cars stranded in heavy waters in the area between Wilton and Galt.
“They’re stuck up to their headlights,” he said.
Although the motorists appeared to be unharmed, McLaughlin urged drivers to avoid roads covered with running water.
The river reached flood stage early Wednesday in the Michigan Bar area but was expected to crest at a few feet below flood stage further west at McConnell.
Sacramento rainfall nearly double for the season to date
Sacramento received another record day of rainfall on Tuesday.
A total of 2.16 inches of rain fell into the official rain gauge Tuesday near Sacramento State, breaking the previous record of 1.72 inches, a mark that was set in 1995.
Records were also broken over the weekend. On Saturday, Sacramento received 1.10 inches and on Sunday 1.96 inches fell – both marks shattered records.
Already this month, Sacramento has received 6.87 inches of rain. Normal rainfall in January is 3.97 inches.
Rainfall for the season stands at 16.38 inches, which is nearly twice as much as normal for Oct. 1 through Jan. 10.
The detailed forecast from the NWS for the Sacramento area through the weekend:
Wednesday: Showers likely, with thunderstorms also possible after 10 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 54. South southwest wind 8 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Tonight: Showers likely, mainly after 4 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. South wind around 5 mph becoming light and variable in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Thursday: Showers likely, mainly before 10 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 51. North northwest wind around 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Thursday night: A 20 percent chance of showers before 10 p.m. Partly cloudy, with a low around 34. Northwest wind 3 to 5 mph.
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 52. North northwest wind around 8 mph.
Friday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 34.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 52.
Saturday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 34.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 54.
Morning update on flooding, rain, snow from National Weather Service
Rain is on the decline in Sacramento as residents keep a wary eye on swollen creeks and rivers.
National Weather Service meteorologist Brooke Bingaman provided an update Wednesday morning on where the north state stands in terms of flooding, rain and snow. High points of her talk on Periscope:
▪ Interstate 80 closed by large poor visibility due to snow.
▪ Weak tornado touches down in South Natomas.
▪ A levee was breached close to town of Thornton, near New Hope Road, on Grizzly Slough. Much of the water flowed into an area where there is just one home, which is believed to already have been evacuated.
▪ Spillover occurred in Wilton area when the Cosumnes River reached flood stage.
“At this point the levees are still intact,” she said. “But a lot of the access roads are flooded and there is a lot of water in that area. No breach of the levee in the Wilton area.”
▪ Keep in mind that even though the rain and snow has slowed, it does not mean storm effects will stop. Scattered showers are forecast Wednesday for Sacramento. Another foot of snow is predicted for the higher elevations of the Sierra.
▪ Water levels on streams will gradually recede. Be careful near creeks.
▪ “The good news is we are looking at drier weather on Friday and into the weekend,” Bingaman said.
Twister touches down in South Natomas
A tornado touched down early Wednesday in South Natomas.
The National Weather Service reported that a weak tornado with wind speeds about 70 mph moved east around 12:01 a.m. across a neighborhood on Rio Tierra Avenue between Northgate Boulevard and Northstead Drive.
The short-lived tornado snapped several trees in half, tore two awnings down and tossed roof shingles. Some of the debris was sent into a shopping mall parking lot across the street.
Tree limbs were deposited on Rio Tierra Avenue, which was closed for several hours. The path of the tornado was listed at 50 yards wide and nearly a half mile long.
The twister was determined to be an EF0 tornado, the weakest of tornados. EF0 tornados have wind speeds from 65 to 85 mph.