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Santa Rosa obliterates rainfall records, mandatory evacuation for Russian River area, California


A slow-moving storm brought widespread heavy precipitation across central to northern California and very heavy snow through the Sierra on February 26 and 27, 2019. The County of Sonoma has issued mandatory evacuations to residents living near the Russian River. Russian River at Guerneville is now at major flood level and is forecast to peak late Wednesday evening, February 27 at 14.05 m (46.1 feet). All roads in and out of Guerneville are now closed.

Santa Rosa obliterated its February and all-time 1-day rainfall record on February 26 with 141.22 mm (5.56 inches) of rain.

The city's previous all-time 1-day rainfall record was 132.84 mm (5.23 inches) set on December 19, 1981. Its previous 1-day February record was 46.22 mm (1.82 inches) set 100 years ago in 1919. 

The station is located in the City of Santa Rosa proper and dates back to 1902.

From February 1 to 27, Santa Rosa registered a total of 372.36 mm (14.66 inches) of rain, making this month its 3rd wettest February on record.

The wettest February ever measured in the city was in 1998 with 493.26 mm (19.42 inches) followed by 404.87 mm (15.94 inches) in 1986.

The worst of the rain hit Venado, where 520.19 mm (20.48 inches) of rain fell in 48 hours to 04:19 PST, February 27 (12:19 UTC).

22 river gauges across the state are showing minor to major flood levels at 13:00 UTC on February 27. 4 of them are in major flood stage, all of them in Sonoma County around Santa Rosa – Russian River at Jimtown, Russian River at Guerneville, Mark West Creek near Mirabel Heights and Willow Brook at Penngrove Park.

River Gauges at 13:00 UTC on February 27, 2019. Credit: Google, NWS, TW

Guerneville area, Sonoma County, California. Credit: Google, TW

Sonoma Country officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents living near the Russian River at 14:00 PST, February 26.

The river is projected to crest at 14.05 m (46.1 feet) at 22:00 PST, February 27. If the forecasted peak turns out to be correct, it would be the sixth highest on record – 15.08 m (49.5 feet).

As of early February 27, all roads leading to Guerneville are flooded, leaving no way in or out of the community, the Sonoma County Sheriff said.

A mudslide took place on Bohemian Highway on Tuesday afternoon, closing the roadway in both directions near Monte Rio, not far from Guerneville. This was one of two routes available for those evacuating due to Russian River flooding. The other way out was through Highway 16 which is now closed too.

Two people got stuck in the mudslide and were later rescued.

Dozens of other mudslides were reported in Sonoma and Plumas counties, blocking lanes or entire portions of Highways 1, 116, 128 and 70.

Authorities said many water rescues were executed as motorists found themselves stranded in as much as 30 cm (1 foot) of flowing water.

Featured image credit: NWS Bay Area

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