Flood warning

Downed trees, power lines remain, but flooding projections downgraded

Downtown Napa mostly expected to dodge bullet
2012-12-01T23:21:00Z 2012-12-02T18:50:19Z Downed trees, power lines remain, but flooding projections downgradedCHANTAL M. LOVELL Napa Valley Register
December 01, 2012 11:21 pm  • 

UPDATE 12:10 p.m. — Napa public safety officials were on “high alert” Sunday morning as they responded to repeated calls of downed trees and power lines and flooding from Saturday night drenching storm.

Numerous roads were closed as of 9 a.m. from American Canyon to Calistoga.

In Napa, the worst of the storm had passed as of that time, said city spokesman Barry Martin. “The bulk of the rain seems to have passed. It looks like we’re on the back end of the storm,” Martin said shortly after 9 a.m. “Some of our stream gauges are showing the flow rates declining. We’re not anticipating the creeks or the river to be out of their banks in Napa.”

As skies began to clear around 9:30 a.m., the rain tallies for the past 24 hours began to drop slightly. The city of Napa Corporation Yard received 1.87 inches of rain from 11:15 p.m. Saturday through 11:15 a.m. Sunday. Mount Veeder received 3.12 inches in that same period. Mt. St. Helena recorded the most rainfall in the county, collecting 3.90 inches of rain in the 24-hour period.

The National Weather Service downgraded its projection for flooding in the area of Oak Knoll Avenue, expecting the river to crest at 26.1 feet Sunday afternoon. That level is about one foot above the flood stage, but it had been projected the Napa River would rise two feet above the flood level.

In Napa, the outlook was “standard” for a storm, according to public safety officials.

“We’ve got downed trees and power lines, flooding,” Martin said. “Nothing serious, nothing out of its banks.”

CalFire said there were “trees down all over the place.”

Anticipating the highest river level in recent years, the city closed Veterans Memorial Park and portion of the downtown riverwalk which were designed to carry high flows. Martin said these moves were precautionary.

The park, Riverfront Promenade and Oxbow Preserve and Trancas Crossing parks will remain closed through Sunday. Crews used excavators to remove large debris from the trash traps covering the new culverts in the Napa Creek, but smaller debris, including plastic bags, trash and organic material, floated down the Napa River in the downtown area Sunday morning.

Residents braved the rain to take pictures of the rising waters.

The California Highway Patrol said it had called in extra officers Sunday to deal with traffic obstructions. No accidents were reported as of 9:30 a.m.

Up Valley, crews scrambled to deal with drainage issues and flooded streets, including Adams Street and Tainter Street in St. Helena. Guigni’s Deli, on Main Street, had a “Closed Due to Flooding” sign in its front window.

Gloria Romeo, owner of Romeo Style, was upset because she said Hunt Avenue flooded during the storm and the water seeped into her shop under the door, which has never happened in the 11 years she has been in business at that location. A city employee brought her three sandbags and showed her how to put them in front of the door. She and her husband were waiting for another employee to bring a Shop-Vac to the store, so they could clean up the water and said they would turn on the heat to see if it would dry out.

As of 10:35 a.m., it did not appear that the Napa River would go over its bank at the Pope Street bridge, the Napa River was high, brown and muddy and full of debris, but the banks were holding.

A two-man Caltrans crew was at St. Helena Marketplace, north of St. Helena, where the worst of the flooding across Highway 29 was and worked with shovels to clear the drain shortly after 10 a.m.

One of the Caltrans employees said they’ve been working 24 hours straight for four days in shifts, although he said he only started at 8 a.m. Sunday morning. The hardest rain in St. Helena was before 8 a.m. and by 10 a.m., it had stopped and the sun came out. There was a rainbow against the dark storm clouds that could be seen throughout downtown.

The National Weather Service, which issued a flood advisory for Napa Sunday morning, forecasts rain through Sunday, tapering off Sunday afternoon.

A flood warning for portions of the Napa River remains in effect and the river is expected to rise Sunday afternoon, Martin said. The Napa area remains under a Flash Flood Watch.

Monday is expected to be partly sunny, with showers returning Tuesday and Wednesday. With the storm tapering off, the city planned to wind down its self-service sandbag operation later Sunday, Martin said.

Since the distribution opened in a parking lot north of the Napa Premium Outlets on Freeway Drive near First Street, about 8,000 sandbags and 150 tons of sand were dispensed, Martin said.

Those still in need of the free sandbags should go to the lot with a shovel and gloves and be prepared to fill and transport their own bags.

David Stoneberg and Kerana Todorov contributed to this report.


 UPDATE: 9.54 a.m. — Napa public safety officials were on “high alert” Sunday morning as they responded to repeated calls of downed trees and power lines and flooding from Saturday night drenching storm.

Numerous roads were closed as of 9 a.m. from American Canyon to Calistoga. In Napa, the worst of the storm had passed as of that time, said city spokesman Barry Martin.

“The bulk of the rain seems to have passed. It looks like we’re on the back end of the storm,” Martin said shortly after 9 a.m. “Some of our stream gauges are showing the flow rates declining. We’re not anticipating the creeks or the river to be out of their banks in Napa.”

“We’ve got downed trees and power lines, flooding,” Martin said. “Nothing serious, nothing out of its banks.”

CalFire said there were “trees down all over the place.”

Anticipating the highest river level in recent years, the city closed Veterans Memorial Park and portion of the downtown riverwalk which were designed to carry high flows.

The California Highway Patrol said it had called in extra officers Sunday to deal with traffic obstructions. No accidents were reported as of 9:30 a.m.

In St. Helena, water was reported running across Highway 29 north of St. Helena in several locations.

The city of Napa Corporation Yard received 1.87 inches of rain from 9:30 p.m. Saturday through 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Mount Veeder received 3.16 inches in that same period. Mt. St. Helena recorded the most rainfall in the county, collecting 3.94 inches of rain in the 24-hour period.

The National Weather Service, which issued a flood advisory for Napa Sunday morning, forecasts rain tapering by mid-day Sunday.

Monday is expected to be partly sunny, with showers returning Tuesday and Wednesday.


UPDATE 9:23 a.m.: Cal Fire reporting trees down "all over the place" in Napa County this morning. Numerous road closures are being reported throughout the county. More information shortly.


Updated at 11:21 p.m. — The National Weather Service has revised Napa River crest estimates on Sunday to 25 feet in Napa and 17 feet in St. Helena, still at or above local flood stages.

The Napa River is projected to rise above flood stage in St. Helena and near Oak Knoll Avenue today, but no major flooding is expected in downtown Napa, according to city officials.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the Napa River in St. Helena and the Napa area, with peak river levels expected on Sunday afternoon.

Three to 4 inches of rain was expected at lower elevations and up to 8 inches of rain at the higher elevations, according to the city. The heaviest rainfall is expected between 6 a.m. and noon Sunday.

The forecast calls for the river in the Napa area to peak at about the flood stage of 25 feet Sunday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Flood stage is 25 feet. The river was measured at 11.2 feet at 9 p.m. Saturday, the agency reported.

In St. Helena, the river is expected to exceed the flood stage of 16 feet at noon Sunday, then crest at 17 feet before falling in the evening. The Napa River was measured at 4.2 feet at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the weather service.

The warning was first issued shortly after 10:30 p.m. Friday for the St. Helena stretch of the Napa River, with the Napa area added at 5 a.m. Saturday. The warning remains in effect until 8 p.m. Sunday.

A wind advisory was issued until 10 a.m. Sunday, with wind gusts reaching 30 miles per hour at lower elevations and up to 50 miles per hour at higher elevations.

Barry Martin, a spokesman for the city of Napa, said Saturday afternoon the city’s projections indicate the flood control improvements that have been completed “should accommodate the expected water flows, and that the Napa River will remain mostly within its banks in areas south of Lincoln Avenue.”

Martin continued, “If rainfall totals reach the maximum predicted, there may be minor flooding near the Lincoln Avenue Bridge, and, as designed in the flood project, the lower portion of Veterans Memorial Park may be inundated. As a precaution for public safety, Veterans Memorial Park and the Riverfront promenade, as well as the Oxbow Preserve park, will be closed to the public throughout (the) day Sunday.”

The city of Napa has set up a self-serve sandbagging operation on Freeway Drive, just north of Napa Premium Outlets, that is open around the clock.

At flood stage, minor flooding is expected in the lowest areas along the river, including some rural roads. But at 18 feet, moderate flooding is expected along the lower areas of towns, primary and rural roads.

“We are keeping a close eye on the river and will continue to do so throughout the weekend,” said Napa County Emergency Services Manager Kerry Whitney.

RiverPointe Napa Valley, a resort on Lincoln Avenue, was evacuated Saturday afternoon and 37 modular cottages were being moved, according to front office manager Dana Richardson.

CalFire’s Yountville station was ready to respond to flooding in low-lying areas.

Yountville Town Manager Steve Rogers on Saturday said Yountville’s public works and public safety personnel are on high alert. CalFire has a swift water rescue crew on standby in Yountville.

In St. Helena, police Sgt. Chris Hartley said police are keeping a watch on the river, checking the gauge by the Pope Street Bridge. Sandbags are being distributed at the end of Library Lane and at Crane Park, he said. The police department has contacted St. Helena’s neighborhood watch representatives and reached the manager at Vineyard Valley, a mobile home park that has flooded in the past.

“If something happens, we’re prepared,” said Hartley, who nonetheless was hopeful that the recent multimillion-dollar flood control improvements completed on the Napa River will prevent flooding problems.

On Saturday, as a precaution, county-owned vehicles were moved from the county’s yard on Water Street in Napa, Whitney said. And across Soscol Avenue, parents and students at St. John the Baptist Catholic School on Napa Street placed dozens of sandbags by the school’s and church’s entryways.

According to the weather service, a hazardous-weather outlook covers the Bay Area through the weekend, and a flash flood watch is in effect until early Monday.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, the storms since Thursday had brought 2.5 inches of rain to the city of Napa’s corporation yard on Jackson Street, according to county gauges.

Mount Veeder recorded 7.7 inches, Mount St. Helena 6.9 inches. Hopper Creek next to Highway 29 received 7.8 inches, and Yountville Cross Road 6.6 inches.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. rocketman
    Report Abuse
    rocketman - December 02, 2012 11:54 am
    Does anyone know if Lake Hennessy is full??
  2. napablogger
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    napablogger - December 02, 2012 12:47 pm
    Its nice and sunny out here in the Oak Knoll area now. The creek came way over its banks but only for a short time.

    We got an emergency alert call from the fire dept this morning which was greatly appreciated.

    During the last flood, 2005, I woke up at 7 and looked out and my house was in the middle of a lake. Pretty scary.
  3. Hotmud
    Report Abuse
    Hotmud - December 02, 2012 5:10 pm
    I think it would be a great service to the Napa County residents if the Napa Valley Register posted lake levels at not only Lake Hennessey but Milliken, Rector and Lake Berryessa. Napa County's stream level website seems incomplete and is not user friendly.
  4. ska21
    Report Abuse
    ska21 - December 02, 2012 8:01 pm
    Looks like about a foot and a half to go as of this posting. . http://napa.onerain.com/sensor.php?site_id=6946&device_id=3&view_id=65
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