North Coast residents are being urged to prepare for a potent winter storm expected to make landfall Saturday even as meteorologists say they need another day to be sure which parts of the Bay Area will bear the brunt of its fury.
Four to five inches of rain is predicted to fall on most North Coast cities, enough to send the Russian River, Napa River and Navarro River over flood stage, and trigger road closures and power outages.
But forecasters caution that even a slight shift northward of the atmospheric river flowing toward the Bay Area could mean significantly higher rainfall totals and local impacts.
“Unfortunately, we really won’t know that until we see the whites of its eyes and it makes landfall,” said Brian Garcia, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey.
At the moment, the best models show the system hitting Big Sur and Santa Cruz hardest, with the highest peaks in those areas potentially receiving more than a foot of rain.
But forecasters won’t really know for sure until Friday where the most intense areas of moisture will land, Garcia said. That means North Bay residents need to be prepared for local totals to go even higher, triggering more intense flooding and power outages.
“I’m just hoping people are preparing well ahead of time for a worst-case scenario,” Garcia said.
Residents of the Mirabel RV Park and Campground weren’t taking any chances.
The owners of the Forestville park have ordered everyone living in the 25 trailers on the property to begin preparations to evacuate, said camp host Lora Meeks. The lowest spot in the campground starts to flood when the river hits 28 feet, and because the river is forecast to rise well above that, everyone must leave, Meeks said.
“We’ve been doing this for so long, we pretty much know when to leave,” Meeks said.
The Russian River is currently forecast to begin rising sharply at Guerneville around 2 p.m. Saturday and crest at 33.4 feet at 3 p.m. Monday, more than a foot over the 32-foot flood stage. The river should then drop back below flood stage by 1 a.m. Tuesday.
That flood prediction is a change from Wednesday, when the river was forecast to crest several feet below flood stage. The latest forecast shifted the storm track more to the north, resulting in the revision, Garcia said.
That level of flooding, however, is considered moderate and only likely to impact the lowest-lying areas of Guerneville and Monte Rio.
“It doesn’t mean that we’re going to have thousands of people in shelters,” said Christopher Helgren, Sonoma County’s emergency manager.
Nevertheless, Helgren urged people to take precautions. The department encourages all residents to keep 72 hours’ worth of essential supplies on hand, including emergency water, food, blankets and lights.
For comparison, the river topped 36 feet in 2014 and 48 feet in 1986 and 1995, the latter two events causing widespread devastation.
The Napa River is forecast to crest just above its 16-foot flood stage in St. Helena at 2 p.m. Sunday, but by the time it gets to Napa, the river is expected to remain 5 feet below its 25-foot flood stage.
The Navarro River was facing the worst flooding, expected to crest at 7 p.m. Sunday at 32.5 feet several miles inland from the coast, or 9.5 feet above flood stage.
Where to get your sandbags filled
Cities typically offer free sandbag filling stations at their corporation yards. In some cases, like Santa Rosa, residents are required to provide proof of residency.
- Fort Bragg Fire
- Laytonville/Long Valley Fire
- Brooktrails Fire
- Redwood Valley-Calpella Fire
- Potter Valley Fire
- Hopland Fire
- Friedman's Home Improvement
- City of Novato corporation yard, 550 Davidson St.
- Hamilton Theater, 507 S Palm Dr.
- Dogbone Meadow Dog Park, Novato Boulevard at Copper Hill Way
- Municipal Services Center, 55 Stony Point Road (24 hours a day, seven days a week)
- Friedman Brothers, 4055 Santa Rosa Ave.
- Home Depot, 100 Bicentennial Way
- Grab N’ Grow, 2759 Llano Road
Rohnert Park: 707-588-3300
- Shamrock Building Materials, 8150 Gravenstein Highway
- Stony Point Rock Quarry, 7171 Stony Point Road
Forestville: Forestville Fire Department, 6554 Mirabel Road
Geyserville: Geyserville Fire District, 20975 Geyserville Ave.
Guerneville: Russian River Fire Protection, 14100 Armstrong Woods Road
Healdsburg: Garrett Hardware, 1340 Healdsburg Ave.
Monte Rio: Monte Rio Fire Department, 9870 Main St.
- Friedman Brothers, 429 N. McDowell Blvd.
- Sequoia Landscape Materials, 1330 King St.
Rohnert Park: Home Depot, 4825 Redwood Drive
- Friedman Brothers, 1360 Broadway Ave.
- Sonoma Materials, 21040 Broadway Ave.
- Soils Plus, 4343 Stage Gulch Road
- Garrett Hardware, 10540 Old Redwood Highway
- Home Depot, 16280 Hembree Lane
This story originally appeared on PressDemocrat.com at pressdemocrat.com/news/6511283-181/russian-river-expected-to-flood.