Storm slams North Bay, Russian River set to flood Friday

The latest storm drenching the North Bay appears to be stalling, meaning its heavy rainfall and strong gusts will stick around through evening, posing a greater possibility of damage for the already-soggy region.“It’s slowing down somewhat, which is bad...

Storm slams North Bay, Russian River set to flood Friday

The latest storm drenching the North Bay appears to be stalling, meaning its heavy rainfall and strong gusts will stick around through evening, posing a greater possibility of damage for the already-soggy region.

“It’s slowing down somewhat, which is bad news for where it’s raining,” said Steve Anderson, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

“That means more rain will accumulate over a longer period of time.”

Thursday’s storm was expected to bring to the region up to 4 inches of rain by Saturday. But that forecast was made before the storm stalled and rain totals by the weekend could be higher. Weather service officials said they are monitoring the storm and will likely update their forecasts as the storm progresses.

It is the second storm to hit the region this week, with rainfall at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport totaling 5.27 inches, 4.2 inches in downtown Santa Rosa and 13.43 inches at Venado, Anderson said.

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Weather officials have issued a flash flood warning extending through Thursday evening and a high wind advisory for the entire Bay Area Thursday. Winds from the south are expected to reach 30 to 40 mph, with some of the mountain peaks seeing gusts of 50 mph.

The back-to-back storms this week have closed about two dozen roads in unincorporated Sonoma County. Highway 1, just north of Carmet, is currently restricted to one lane due to construction.

Flooding Thursday closed Rohnert Park Expressway at Stony Point Road, Slusser Road at River Road and Valley Ford Road at Bloomfield Road. Geysers Road in Cloverdale is closed due to a mud slide.

Jennifer Larocque, a spokeswoman for the Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works, said the constant rains have created unstable conditions beneath the many of the counties roadways. She encouraged local residents to be careful, particularly in flooded areas and where roads are on an incline and could be subject to “slip outs,” where the soil is so saturated it slides out from underneath a road.

“We’re all hands on deck and working with emergency contractors to keep our roads passable whenever possible,” Larocque said.

Larocque said the county has taken an extra precaution at Green Valley Road, which is currently flooded. Emergency crews are placing k-rail barricades to block traffic.

“With this much rain and saturation, we’re unsure of the conditions of the road,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons we ask that people not drive through flood water.”

Mudslides have been reported throughout the county, most recently on Highway 1 north of Jenner and Highway 128 near Chalk Hill Road, according to CHP Officer Jonathan Sloat.

Sloat said there have been no major accidents reported Thursday.

The Sonoma County Office of Education is reported multiple school closures Thursday, including Alexander Valley Union in Healdsburg, Guerneville School, Harmony Union in Occidental, Horicon Elementary in Annapolis and Redwood Consortium Special Education Preschool in Bennett Valley.

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In the Guerneville area, standing water had been receding, but the Russian River is again rising and is expected to crest at 11 a.m. Friday about 7 feet over the 32-foot flood stage.

The storm will give way to showers on Friday, and then a five-day break of dry weather. After that more rain is expected.

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