Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Wet New Year

Heavy rains Friday night brought New Year's Eve flooding in many low-lying areas of Sacramento County. News reports may have made it seem like a complete disaster, but it's not so bad as it may seem. Most of the City of Sacramento was just fine, with only local streets flooded due to storm drains being backed up. Several homes in Roseville, Carmichael, Wilton, Rio Vista, and other low-lying areas near creeks and the Cosumnes river were flooded, and that's always a tragedy, but there was no loss of life. For photos, see the Sacramento Bee's photo page, here.

As one of my co-workers pointed out, during the height of calls from citizens with water in their front yards, demanding that we do something, it wasn't Hurricane Katrina. It was a winter storm, that's all. A very wet, warm, winter storm.

The biggest problem I ran into, personally, was a foot of standing water on the freeway beneath an overpass. I hit it at 40mph on the way to work Saturday morning, in pitch black darkness and pouring rain. Scared the heck out of me! Water gooshed over the hood of my car! I'm glad I'm driving a larger car now, cuz my little Focus would have hydroplaned and spun out in a heart-beat.

So, the big warm storm was over by Saturday morning, and the sun was actually shining by about 9am, but the water was still rolling downhill. I think most of the creeks crested about 3-4pm Saturday. Today, the next storm began rolling in, and this one packed winds. 40-50mph gusts, I'm certain, with rain on the way tonight. I'm glad I live in the heights, where everything is dry (not flooded anyway).

Coming out of work today I saw this tree downed on 7th Street between G Street and H Street in downtown Sacramento. We got dozens of calls between 1pm and 4pm when I left work about trees falling.

On the way home I stopped to take a look at the swollen Sacramento River. It's not at flood stage, but I'd say it's not very far from it. The Sacramento is a carefully regulated river, though, and the true flood risk from her, as long as the levee's all hold, is quite minimal. The engineers watch how much water runs through the river very carefully.

This is the Sacramento River at the I Street Bridge. Note the very small amount of clearance between the bottom train tressle and the water level. Probably 5-6 feet.

This is looking the other direction, upriver, from the same spot just north of the I Street Bridge. Notice there's not all that much levee left above water!

So, Happy busy New Year to me, and all you out there. I hope the New Year is happy, prosperous, and enjoyable!

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