From Drought to Flash Flood Warnings in 1 Week

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Sat, Feb 8, 2014 - 4:57pm

File this under the "Be Careful What You Wish For" label...

Northern California's driest winter on record finally saw some rain start falling last Sunday. And it's been coming down hard pretty much ever since.

My phone just rang with a surprise text alert: Flash Flood warnings are in effect for Sebastopol until 7:30pm tonight. (oops - just received a second one: it's now until 7:45pm)

I think the local government is working with AT&T to send out these alerts based on my phone's GPS location. A little creepy privacy-wise, but appreciated safety-wise.

For my fellow West County residents: stay safe and dry.

For everyone else: the old timers weren't kidding when they came up with the saying "When it rains, it pours!"



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LeanneBaker's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 5 2013
Posts: 29
Love the Pineapple Express!

We have had more than 13.5 inches of rain in the past two days at our place in West County, and it's still raining.  Add that to the seven inches we received in several earlier storms this season, and we have reached half of our average annual rainfall of 40 inches per year (measured over the past six years).  We have put in several passive water gathering systems in recent years, including four small ponds connected to a dry creek bed, and more recently the guts of a Hugel mound, but with each storm like this we see more that we can do.

For a broader perspective on the national weather patterns, listen to my favorite meteorologist, Evelyn Browning Garriss, on Jim Puplava's Financial Sense website this weekend:

In her view, the California drought and the bitter Eastern and Midwestern cold stems from the Pacific and Atlantic Decatal Oscillators (PDO and ADO).  For us in California, the cooler Pacific temperatures suggest that drought conditions statewide can persist for some time.  However, the growing indications are that we could see an El Nino pattern develop later this year -- and that could mitigate or even break the drought this year.

We also got the text alerts about flash flooding and I agree -- too Big Brother for me. 

FarmersWife's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 22 2008
Posts: 30
You have us BEAT!

We only got 12 inches over the past two days... I'm really excited to hear about how the water system for retention and management is working on your place.  Will try to get to TaylorMaid to hear more.

We had 140 people come out to the Sebastopol Grange last to hear a talk on Sonoma county's water management system, by a hydrologist.  It was amazing how many people showed up (with very little publicity to the public)... a very hot topic, which I'm glad to see. I think over half expressed an interest in attending a workshop on the subject of implementing something to increase the retention of water in our soils.

We have put our 'fodder project' on hold right now because we are in the middle of purchasing 4 1/2 acres for a homestead!!! It will have enough acreage where we could grow our own organic barley for fodder. If things go well, we will close in a month. Course, then we put in water/well, power, septic... you know, a few details to take care of... and then a house.  But at least it has the most important item - a BARN!




greendoc's picture
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 23 2008
Posts: 155
Congratulations Amy!

On your new homestead.  That is fantastic. 

We had 11 inches here in Bennett Valley.  We had our 1200 gallon septic tank pumped Thursday morning, because it had been ten years since its last pumping.  So I know when it started raining it was basically empty as no one showered, did laundry just a few toilet flushes. And by Sunday morning the water table was right at the surface: we had little springs erupting all over the yard, water under the house and toilets that did not flush.  Good thing we have a composting toilet. (for emergencies like an earthquake)  So the rainwater backflowed from teh leach lines into the empty tank and completely filled it. By Sunday night everything drained (and is continuing to drain) and we could go back to life as normal, but what a change from just days before.  Frankly, I was surprised to see quickly the run off Friday afternoon all the gullies along Bennett Valley Rd were full as was Matanzas Creek.  I thought it would take longer to saturate the ground as it was so dry. 



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