Reporting Ian Schwartz
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A series of powerful rainstorms is expected to hit Northern California beginning Wednesday morning, dumping up to 8 inches of rain on parts of the region, a National Weather Service forecaster said.
The storms will start around the time of the morning commute on Wednesday and continue through the weekend. Wind gusts could reach as high as 70 mph in coastal areas.
The National Weather Service has already issued a flood watch for Thursday through Sunday for much of the Northern California.
The heaviest rain is expected over eastern Butte and western Plumas counties where rainfall amounts of 15 to 20 or more inches will be possible through the weekend. In the valley, rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches will be possible.
The American River Flood Control District is patrolling its 40 miles of levees.
“The longer the duration, the more saturated conditions get,” General Manager Tim Kerr said.
Saturated may be an understatement – the next five days will see three or four storms with up to 8 inches of valley rain.
“That’s quite a big pulse of storms to come through our waterways,” Kerr said.
Area creeks could shoot up about 10 more feet.
“I think if you live near a small creek or stream u have to pay attention to those,” said Paul Devereux, GM of Reclamation District 1000.
But the rivers should be able to handle Mother Nature’s outburst of wet weather.
After this storm we should see a significant change in our river levels. The Sacramento River should rise about 12 feet so the water will come to the rocks and even to that tree line but it’s not expected to threaten any homes.
“The rivers will stay at a level that’s very manageable,” Devereux said.
The heavy rains predicted are especially worrisome for recent burn scars from the Chips and Ponderosa fires where land slides and debris flows are a possibility.
“A lot of time after a fire has burned, and the rain starts, there is going to be a lot of water flow in those mountains compared to when there was vegetation,” explained Daniel Berlant of CalFire.
CalFire is trying to mitigate the problem by digging holes in the burn areas to help drain excess water.
The state Department of Water Resources says area rivers will rise and they are checking levees, however, they say this is more a creek and stream issue.
The city of Sacramento is also preparing for the storms. City leaf crews have added extra yard wast collection days to cut down on the number of leaf piles on the street.
The city has also assigned additional on-call crews to help with the possibility of downed trees, clogged storm drains and flooded streets.
City officials are also asking residents to help prepare for winter storms by using their Yard Waste containers instead of placing piles on the street.
In case of street flooding, downed trees or branches, call 311 or use the FREE 311 App.
The city also has a host of information at SacramentoReady.org.