December 2, 2012
Sacramento region battered by rain; storm total at 4.72 inches

photo-3.JPGBy Anne Gonzales

A subtropical storm system dropped 1.82 inches on Sacramento this weekend, bringing the total precipitation to 4.72 inches since Wednesday. Some areas got drenched by a significant band of rainfall Sunday morning.

Snow levels dropped to Donner Summit, and rivers are rising, while drivers encountered lakes of standing water on roads and residents scrambled to clear debris from drains to prevent flooding.

Cindy Matthews, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said the three-storm system is "very warm, hooked in with subtropical moisture from near Hawaii, which is bringing us multiple days of precipitation"

Matthews said rain pelted Sacramento about 8 a.m. today, with some areas reporting a half-inch of rain falling in about 15 minutes.

Small stream flooding could continue to Monday morning, Matthews said, as rainwater wends its way into creeks. All of the rain falling upstream was being kept by reservoirs, with no releases Sunday morning, she said.

Flood stage is forecast for the upper Sacramento River at the Tehama Bridge, and multiple locations on levees in Tehama, Butte and Glenn counties were being monitored, Matthews said.

Weir overflows into the Sutter and Yolo bypasses were expected Sunday, and Michigan Bar just east of Rancho Murieta was being monitored for overflow, she said.

The American River at Discovery Park at I Street in Sacramento was at 15.1 feet Sunday morning, and was expected to rise to 18.5 feet by Monday morning. The park is closed when the river reaches 19 feet.

In the 24 hours from 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday, Sacramento got 1.82 inches of rain, while Shasta and Tehama counties got anywhere from 2 to 6 inches.

Snow levels have been relatively high, with the storm bringing mostly rain to the Sierra Nevada mountains, but by Sunday morning, snow was falling at Donner Summit, at 7,000 feet elevation, the lowest since Wednesday, Matthews said. Kingvale, at 6,200 feet, was also reporting snow.

Heather Palm of Fair Oaks said her family awoke Sunday morning to find 4 inches of water in their garage, as storm drains were clogged with falling leaves. By mid-morning, the water was creeping past the porch, into her foyer and heading for the living room.

"My husband and father have been running from drain to drain, pulling leaves out of the drains, but three minutes later, leaves rush down the gutters and are immediately plugged again," Palm said.

The house sits on a downward slope, she said. The family just moved from North Natomas, where they were aware of the potential for flooding. Her father, incidentally, was "enjoying his first weekend of California weather," after moving here from Texas, Palm said.

PHOTO: Ed, left, and Shelby Durkee clear street drains of leaves just after a Sunday morning deluge in Sacramento's Curtis Park neighborhood. Bee photo by Linda Gonzales