Two-day storm boosted Sacramento rainfall to 88 percent of average

The storm that swept through the Sacramento region Monday and Tuesday helped compensate for a dry December while causing its share of flooding and downed trees.

The downpour began with 2.38 inches of rain in downtown Sacramento on Monday, the most on Jan. 8 since the National Weather Service began recording data in 1877, and had run up to 3.56 inches by 4 a.m. Wednesday. The previous record was set last year, when 1.96 inches was reported on that date.

That brought downtown Sacramento’s total rainfall for January to 4.41 inches, and the season total to 7.13 inches, which is 88 percent of average for this point in season, Powell said.

Two-day totals in other areas included 3.49 inches in Elk Grove, 3.42 inches in Carmichael and 3.18 inches at Sacramento Executive Airport. Blue Canyon along Interstate 80 in the Sierra recorded 3.51 inches of rain over the two days, Powell said, noting that this storm produced little snow.

The heavy rain turned a homeless camp under the Garden Highway overpass into an island. A group of homeless people was rescued by the Sacramento Fire Department early Tuesday after they became isolated by rising water levels.

Some of those who were trapped made it to safety by using an inflatable mattress, but one woman was stranded on a newly formed island, according to Sacramento Fire Department spokesman Chris Harvey. Fire crews reached the woman by boat and escorted her to safety.

Although there hasn’t been much rain so far this winter, downpours like Monday’s can quickly affect water levels.

During last year’s torrential rainy season, the Sacramento Fire Department rescued 25 people trapped by rising water, Harvey said, noting that many of the rescues took place in the same general areas near creeks and rivers, which are popular locations for homeless camps.

The storm also caused at least two Sacramento-area streams – Arcade Creek at Winding Way, near American River College, and the Cosumnes River’s Deer Creek Crossing on Scott Road – to flood Tuesday morning, according to Sacramento County’s alert network.

In the city of Sacramento, public works crews were tied up for hours Tuesday trying to remove a thick cottonwood tree that crushed a Honda sedan in the 2200 block of American Avenue in the Gardenland area.

The tree was hundreds of years old, said Antonio Gomez, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1947. It toppled an AT&T phone line before hitting the car.

A slight chance of showers is forecast Wednesday, along with patchy fog, before giving way to partly sunny skies. The National Weather Service warns of patchy dense fog Thursday through the weekend.

The Sacramento area is expected to see high temperatures in the mid-50s to 60 degrees through early next week, with overnight lows in the upper 30s to low 40s. Dry weather is forecast for the Sierra through the weekend, with highs in the low 50s and lows in the mid-20s.

More rain is expected in the Sacramento area within the next two weeks before a dry spell in late January and early February, said Mike Kochasic, a National Weather Service meteorologist. A weak system next Monday should drop about a half-inch in the Sacramento Valley, then a slightly stronger storm could drop up to a full inch next Thursday.

Whether the moisture will be enough to compensate for scant rain over the last month remains to be seen.

“It’s the million-dollar question,” Kochasic said. “If those (future) systems end up looking like what we just had, it could make up for our dry December.”

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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