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Heavy rain buffets Petaluma


The Petaluma area seemed to have avoided any major storm-related incidents as of Tuesday afternoon, in contrast to a brash storm that swamped the city Sunday, flooding streets and prompting a slew of evacuations and rescues.

Forecasters indicated that heavy rain and winds with gusts of up to 33 miles an hour would take place Tuesday evening, and between 1 and 2 ½ inches of rain were projected to fall on the city though the night, according to the National Weather Service.

Petaluma Fire Department Battalion Chief Dave Kahn said personnel were closely monitoring stream gauges Tuesday afternoon, though no major incidents had been reported and no road closures were in place. High tide in the Petaluma River was at 11 a.m., according to tide charts.

“We don’t at this time predict any major incidents,” Kahn said.

The Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District, which covers Penngrove and parts of unincorporated Petaluma, had not received calls for services as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to administrative manager Jennifer Ober. No road closures were reported in the area, she said.

Ober said Willow Brook Creek had begun to flow into low-lying areas of Penngrove Park, and personnel would continue to be on the lookout as the rain continues.

“They’re expecting really heavy rain this afternoon – that could definitely push the river up into the park,” she said.

According to an alert from the Petaluma Police Department, local streams were continuing to rise, and minor flooding was observed on Petaluma Boulevard North, near Gossage Lane and on Stony Point Road. Residents and businesses in north Petaluma may experience similar flooding to what took place Sunday, police said.

A deluge of rain brought the Petaluma River over its banks Sunday, running over into low-lying areas in the north area of the city and closing the Petaluma Auto Mall and several businesses and roads.

On Sunday, multiple roads around the city were shut down due to flooding, including Stony Point Boulevard, North McDowell Boulevard and parts of Petaluma Boulevard North, which was reduced to one lane of traffic, according to a release from police.

The parking lot of the Petaluma Village Outlets was filled with several inches of rain Sunday, according to General Manager Jessica Burnett. Though water puddled throughout the mall, no businesses were damaged. Retailers closed their doors around 3 p.m., but as many as 100 people braved the winter weather to shop Sunday, she said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, she said no major flooding was seen in the parking lot, and the mall is “in a lot better shape than it was Sunday,” she said.

Petaluma firefighters evacuated multiple residents Sunday afternoon from the east side Youngstown Senior Mobile Home Park as water threatened to flood multiple units, Kahn said.

Early Sunday, Rancho Adobe firefighters rescued two occupants from an RV parked on a Penngrove property near the shuttered Green Mill Inn on Old Redwood Highway as waters rose to waist-deep levels, Ober said. Residents were also evacuated from multiple units in a Penngrove mobile home park, she said.

The City of Petaluma Emergency Operations Center at Lucchesi Community Center was activated Sunday morning, though it was closed by the afternoon, Kahn said.

Officials urged drivers to remain safe and vigilant on the slick roadways as the storm continued Tuesday.

“Don’t drive around barriers, don’t test the puddles,” Kahn said. “It takes us off of other emergencies to have to come help people that are stranded in the car.”

According to rainfall totals, Petaluma has seen a steep increase in rainfall this year, with 18.73 inches recorded Monday as opposed to 10.57 inches as of last year to date.

“Certainly, in most places around the Bay Area, this is the most rain we’ve seen in about 10 years,” National Weather Service forecaster Steve Anderson said Tuesday, adding that the water-soaked ground is likely to give way to landslides and trees may topple from the winds and wet soil.

(Contact Hannah Beausang at hannah.beausang@arguscourier.com.)