California bomb cyclone triggers Russian River evacuations
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation warning Wednesday night for residents living near the Russian River and its tributaries from Healdsburg to Jenner amid a bomb cyclone event in Northern California that is expected to be followed by other storms later in the week.
The latest forecast calls for the river to reach 33 feet, rising about 1 foot above flood stage, Thursday night, Jan. 5, into the early hours of Friday, Jan. 6. The river is expected to drop below flood stage Friday afternoon, but is expected to overflow its bank again Sunday night into Monday morning, the sheriff’s office said. The river is forecast to crest near 40 feet at midnight Sunday, cresting about 8 feet above flood stage. These forecasts may change as the storm unfolds; The California Nevada River Forecast Center updates its forecast frequently.
The stretch of river between these two cities is about 30 miles long and passes through several residential areas and towns.
“For your own safety, be prepared to leave areas below 40 feet of flood stage along the Russian River,” the sheriff’s office advised in a message posted at 5:10 p.m. “Be sure to bring essential items, such as medicine. If you live above below the 40-foot level, your access may be reduced or eliminated due to flood waters.”
You can see which areas are under an evacuation warning on the sheriff’s office Facebook page. Also, get more information from the Sonoma County Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery page.
The warning comes in an area of the Golden State that was already inundated with a historic New Year’s Eve river storm event. A storm system began hitting Northern California Wednesday morning and is expected to bring heavy rain and dangerous winds Thursday morning. Forecasters are referring to the system as a bomb cyclone as it has formed rapidly off the coast. They warn that impacts across Northern California will include flooding, power outages, downed trees and potentially loss of life. More storms are on the way.
“We have a series of storms, back-to-back, for at least the next seven days, if not longer,” said Cindy Palmer, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. “The next strong storm could be early this weekend. We could see rain again Friday night into Saturday with the next storm. We have another strengthening system for Monday, another for Tuesday and potentially another next as we go. Wednesday and Thursday.”
Sonoma County is expected to get more rain with this storm than it did with the Dec. 31 event, said Sean Miller, a forecaster with the weather service. The Guerneville area is expected to record about 3 inches of rain in lower elevations, 5 to 6 inches in the hills and up to 7 inches in the mountains Wednesday and Thursday, Miller said.
The Russian River experienced extreme flooding in 2019 when the river rose to 45 feet in Guerneville, rising about 13 feet above flood stage, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
This story incorporates reporting from a story on Russian River previously posted on January 4.
Full coverage of the storm in the bay area