Are we any closer to normal rain levels after the weekend’s big storm?
It’s beginning to look a lot like Seattle around here, with constant gray skies and steady rain from a series of storms that are pushing rainfall totals closer to normal levels.
The holiday weekend storm brought more than 5 inches of rain to many areas of Sonoma County, while up in the wettest areas - the coastal hills and hills west of Healdsburg - rainfall totals were closer to one foot as of Monday morning.
The storms started one week ago with a bitterly cold two days of rain and snow, followed by the weekend gully-washer, which started Friday and has slowed but hasn’t stopped. Together, they’ve brought Santa Rosa nearly up to normal totals for this point in the rain year, with 6.61 inches recorded at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport compared with 6.85 inches for an average year.
“It looks like we’re getting close,” said Will Pi, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Monday afternoon the gray skies lingered but the rain had eased, turning to showers, which are expected to last through Tuesday. Wednesday to Thursday night should provide a break in the wet weather.
But the third storm in the series is due late Thursday and could run through the weekend, bringing another 3-5 inches in North Bay hills and 2-4 inches in the valleys, according to forecasts.
County officials had been concerned about high rainfall totals causing damage in the Kincade fire scar, stretching across a huge swath of north county.
But while rainfall was heavy at times, no major issues were reported countywide, including in the Kincade burn zone, according to county road officials, firefighters and emergency dispatchers.
Many areas burned by the Kincade fire - the state’s largest wildfire this year, and the largest in county history - were hit with more than 3 inches of rain, but it came over time and not with high intensity.
“There were no reports of major debris flow,” said meteorologist Matt Mehle.
“Within the fire burn area, we haven’t had anything,” said Johannes Hoevertsz, the county’s director of transportation and public works. “Most of it has been absorbed by the ground. We’ve had some minor slides here and there, but nothing big - not more than the usual.”
Dispatchers reported few calls all weekend involving weather, mainly some small trees and limbs falling and some minor rock slides.
“We were quiet last night. We had one call related to the storm, a tree down across the road. I think the wind didn’t blow as hard as predicted,” said Sonoma County Fire Capt. Fred Leuenberger.
In and around Windsor and Rincon Valley, the Sonoma County Fire District fielded calls for a few vehicle accidents and falling trees, according to Battalion Chief Cyndi Foreman.
In the west county, firefighters were kept busy, but handled nothing serious aside from a cliff rescue off Highway 1, said Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman.
“We had the usual, little trees down, rock slides,” Baxman said. Calls included a 1:30 a.m. Monday report of a slide on River Road by Rio Nido and a 5 a.m. call for large boulders down on the Cazadero Highway.
County road crews were sent to one problem site along the Bohemian Highway that developed over the weekend and stems from the flooding there in February. The latest rainfall began to push mud down a hillside onto the public roadway, which blocks access to Bohemian Grove, said Hoevertsz.
“The slide is on private land, but when it comes down, it obstructs our road,” he said. “Our guys went out and cleaned it up. Other than that, everything is holding pretty good.”
No fatal crashes occurred during the storm, but crashes were nonetheless numerous on wet roadways, said CHP Officer Marcus Hawkins. “There were too many to count,” he said.
The bad crash that Baxman responded to on Saturday occurred in heavy afternoon rain on Highway 1 near Jenner, where when a driver missed a sharp curve and her pickup plunged 125 feet down a cliff. The woman was rescued.
On Monday morning, a driver lost control in wet weather on Mark West Springs Road near Petrified Forest Road, causing first responders to temporarily block the roadway to retrieve the vehicle.Track wet weather here: