Sunday, January 17, 2016


Update 1/18: The Eel did crest slightly above flood stage, and remains there, while the Mad River also overflowed its banks but apparently subsided.  The next dose of rain tomorrow is predicted to be less than the last storm brought, but that could be wildly off according to specific location.  And there are more storms lined up behind that one.

According to Lost Coast Outpost: "We’re at 28.2 inches of precipitation in Eureka since the start of the rain year, in October. That’s nearly 150% ahead of a normal year’s schedule."  Above is LCO reporter Andrew Goff's video of the Eel from the Fernbridge--an amazing sight to those who traverse that bridge and normally see far below them a mostly dry river bed.  The Martin Luther King speech soundtrack is a holiday bonus.

Back when I was driving down to Ferndale for Sunday matinees at the Rep, I crossed the Fernbridge: a long span, high above a wide expanse that was almost always dry.  Maybe a puddle here and there, or even a weak stream, to indicate that this was a river, the Eel.

Tonight the Eel is going to crest a couple of feet higher than flood stage at Fernbridge.  It happens, but it's hard to imagine.  An awful lot of water.

Other rivers hereabouts are at or near flood stage, as the "atmospheric river" (as those madcap meteorologists call it) is bringing El Nino-fed storm after storm.  We've gotten into a pattern of a day-long storm, followed by maybe 12 hours of lull before the next storm sends out its feelers, and comes barging in.

Some bring wind, and the amount of rain is very variable according to location, which can be quite specific.  But this last storm, just tapering off at this hour, carried a lot of rain.  And since places north have been getting rain as well (often more than we have) the rivers are bringing that extra water through.

The storms also are feeding higher tides, which mean more erosion and coastal flooding as well.

Today in northern Humboldt there have been flooding on roads and streets, causing some closings, and in low-lying neighborhoods.  A rain-induced landslide has closed Rt. 299 indefinitely.  Another landslide temporarily closed the four lane 101, our north/south lifeline, and caught unfortunate drivers in the northbound lane around Loleta, just south of Eureka, causing what's described as a bad crash.

And if that wasn't enough, there was an earthquake offshore--in the fatal zone of plates rubbing that someday is going to bring the Really Big One--near Ferndale.  It was at least the third there recently, this one at 3.7, which is weaker than the strongest in the series.

The main difference from my recollection of the last big El Nino winter is that it seems mostly warmer.  This weather pattern is forecast to hold all next week, and quite probably longer than that.  The day or at least hours between bouts of rain help the flood situation, but increasingly less as the ground becomes more saturated and the volume in the rivers and streams continues to be high.  So stay tuned.  

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