Rain’s on the way
A LONE WALKER makes her way through the Plaza Wednesday morning as the rains started to fall.
Those who enjoy blustery weather are in luck. It’s going to be a wet and windy weekend in the Valley as a major storm system moves through the region and the rainy season kicks off in earnest. The first watery wave hit Wednesday morning, but by mid-afternoon a brief period of blue skies belied the heavy rainfall that was to follow.
This is certainly no time of year for parades.
Light rains fell on and off throughout the day Thursday with the heaviest rains anticipated to hit Sonoma Valley by 2 to 6 a.m. Friday morning. By Friday night, rainfall totals are expected to reach as much as 3 to 6 inches. Another break is expected Friday night, and then, according to the National Weather Service, several more inches of rainfall are expected at higher elevations in the area. After a day of rain, heavy at times, Saturday, conditions are expected to become calm sometime Sunday. The Valley might get as little as 2 to 4 inches rain total.
“It’s not a superstorm, by any means,” said National Weather Service forecaster Diana Henderson, “but it’s one people should take seriously.”
Flash flood warnings went into effect for our region starting Thursday afternoon and at press time extended through Friday. Floods are most likely to occur when the ground is saturated and the tide is high. High tide on Friday morning came at about 3 a.m. with the next high expected at midday.
Saturday morning, high tide is predicted for 3:30 a.m., when the ground will be even more saturated. “Floods always seem to happen in the middle of the night,” lamented Milenka Bates, Sonoma’s public works director, and though
this storm is not expected to be problematic, she said, “Never say ‘never.’”
A flood watch from the National Weather Service indicated that conditions are favorable for a flood, said Henderson. The watch will be elevated to a warning if a flood is imminent. Check weather.noaa.gov for updates.
This storm system comes slightly earlier in the season than is usual for one if its size and intensity, but it’s not out of the ordinary, and the city is prepared. “We’ve done a lot of work with the creeks and storm drains,” said Bates. The storm drains are relatively clear, helping to minimize the potential for flooding, which in the city happens most often along Napa Street from Fifth Street East to Fifth Street West.
Sheana Davis, who recently celebrated the first anniversary of her shop Epicurean Connection at 122 W. Napa St., said Thursday that she loves the rain, but she got a warning earlier that day from the building’s former tenant to watch the backdoor for flooding during the storm.
Those close to Sonoma Creek and its tributaries are also advised to take precautions. Strong winds up to 20 to 30 mph are also expected to accompany the storms.
The city began distributing sandbags at City Hall on Thursday afternoon, with a limit of 10 a person, and would continue during normal business hours Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After that, residents would need to bring their own bags. Sand is also available free of charge at Depot Park, though you would need your own shovel, and sand and sandbags are available at Friedman’s on Broadway during normal retail hours.
Bates also advised those close to creeks to take in or tie up small items such as chairs, decorations and flower pots.