This is a developing situation and information may change. We’ll update this article as more information becomes available. The most recent information will be updated at the top of the article, with the earlier reports below.
Update 1/7/23 10:14 p.m.: Lightning strikes are being report in the Point Arena, Ukiah and Hopland areas as the storm train continues through the county. Additionally, the South Coast Fire Protection District has closed Highway 1 from Pacific Woods Dr. to Hubert Ave. to remove a large tree blocking the road in downtown Gualala. The road is anticipated to reopen at approximately 11 p.m. tonight.
Update 1/7/23 6:39 p.m.: State Route 128 is closed from Highway 1 to Masonite Industrial Rd., just west of Navarro, due flooding. It is expected to reopen at 11:01 a.m. on Monday, January 9.
Update 1/7/23 4:44 p.m.: State Route 175 is fully closed from the Highway 101 junction to Hopland Railroad Crossing in Hopland due to flooding. It is expected to reopen at 11:01 a.m. on Monday, January 9.
Update 1/7/23 4:30 p.m.: The Sheriff’s Office has issued a situational aware alert via Nixle for flooding in the Navarro area, especially on Sunday and Monday. See the full alert here.
Update 1/7/23 3:30 p.m.: State Route 1 is closed at the Garcia River due to flooding, specifically from south of Miner Hole Rd. to Fisherman Dr.; here is the Caltrans road cam for near that location. The closure is expected to end at 12:01 p.m. Monday, January 9. There have been reports of downed trees, debris or rocks in the roads, and power outages throughout the day, including on SR 128 and SR 20.
Update 1/7/23 11 a.m.: A flash flood warning has been issued for the western part of August Complex burn scar areas including northeastern Mendocino and southern Trinity counties, with debris flows possible due to heavy rain and potential thunderstorms, from today, Saturday Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. through 7a.m. on Sunday. The NWS warning notes:
Heavy rainfall over the southern portions of the August Complex burn scar is expected up to and during the period of the watch. Residents near the southern portions of the August Complex burn scar should prepare for potential flooding impacts. Be sure to stay up to date with information from local authorities. Heavy rainfall could trigger flash flooding of low-lying areas, urbanized street flooding, and debris flows in and near recent wildfire burn scars.
There were significant winds reported in the early hours of Jan. 7, and there have been a number of outages and road closures this morning — The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office requests residents take caution when undertaking any necessary travel.
Update 7:20 p.m.: The National Weather Service has upgraded the wind advisory that is effect through Saturday morning to a high wind warning for southwest Humboldt County and coastal Mendocino County, with peaks winds expected Saturday morning. A flood watch is also in effect from until Tuesday afternoon, January 10; see more details in the original article below.
Update 5 p.m.: Mendocino County has issued a statement noting that a local emergency has been declared by CEO Darcie Antle due to the ongoing severe storms, and recommending that residents “exercise caution when traveling around the County during these hazardous weather conditions. Reminder, be aware and move over for road crews, PG&E and first responders.” The county has established its emergency operations center and will be posting updates on the Mendocino County Facebook page and Twitter feed.
MENDOCINO Co., 1/6/22 — Just when one storm ends, another will bring more wind, rain, flooding and dangerous conditions for Mendocino County starting Friday night through Monday. Here’s what to expect during this second atmospheric river.
The first major concern is the rain. Mendocino County could see up to 10 inches of rain during this storm. Rain will slowly build up on Friday totaling 3 to 6 inches through Saturday. National Weather Service Eureka (NWS Eureka) expects another inch or two on Sunday followed by 2-4 inches on Monday into Tuesday.
In an interview with the Mendocino Voice, NWS Eureka meteorologist Matthew Kidwell said that county residents will experience “a lot of pulses” of rain throughout the storm period: heavy rains Friday night and Saturday morning, lighter on Saturday afternoon, heavy on Saturday night, lighter on Sunday, and heavy on Monday. The largest amounts of rain will be on the coast and in northwestern Mendocino County, according to Kidwell.
Flooding will be the result of all that rain. NWS Eureka issued a Flood Watch for the entire county through 4 p.m. Tuesday. According to NWS Eureka, excessive rainfall will create runoff which “may result in the flooding of rivers, creeks, streams and other low-lying and flood-prone locations.” Storm drains and ditches could overflow from being filled with debris and mud, and rock slides are possible in hilly and mountainous areas, as well as in fire scars.
NWS Eureka forecasts that the Russian River near Hopland, the Navarro River near Navarro, and the Garcia River in Point Arena will all reach flood stages Sunday and possibly again on Monday. It will come as no surprise that portions of Highway 1 in Point Arena, Highway 128 near Navarro and Highway 175 in Hopland may close due to flooding. Kidwell reminds drivers not to drive through floodwaters, “just a foot of flowing water can push a car off a road.”
Finally, southerly winds will increase on Friday, accompanying rain. Kidwell advises that residents “prepare for winds close to what we had earlier this week.” Lower elevation areas, including valleys, could experience gusts up to 40 mph Friday and Saturday. Higher gusts up to 50 mph can be expected along the coast and in higher elevations. Ridgetops could see 60 mph gusts.
“There’s just a lot of uncertainty on where exactly [the wind is] going to go,” Kidwell said, explaining that meteorologists are unsure where the region’s strongest winds will hit — Northern Mendocino, Southern Humboldt, or off the coast. Regardless, he recommends everyone take precautions. As we experienced in the storm earlier this week, more downed trees and power lines, resulting in outages, will be the likely result of the wind. Downed trees may be even more common during this storm due to heavily saturated soil.
Additionally, NWS Eureka issued a Storm Warning from Cape Mendocino to Point Arena from 9 p.m. Friday through 9 a.m. Saturday. Mariners can expect southeast winds 30 to 40 kt. with gusts up to 55 kt. and seas 14-18 ft. NWS Eureka advises that mariners should stay in port, alter course, and/or secure their vessels due to the conditions. “Very strong winds will cause hazardous seas which could capsize or damage vessels and reduce visibility,” NWS Eureka states in the warning.
While a High Surf Warning has not been issued as of now, Kidwell says the coast could also experience high tides, albeit not as high as the 30 foot waves experienced earlier this week. The surf could reach 16 to 20 feet over the weekend. Storm surges could also be experienced on the coast.
In response to the upcoming storm, the County of Mendocino issued the following statement:
Additional significant winter weather events are projected to impact Mendocino County over the weekend and into next week. Significant additional rainfall is forecast across the county along with moderate to high winds. Recent rainfall events have left the soil very saturated, making it more likely that trees will fall. Residents should be prepared for potential power outages, avoid nonessential travel, and are urged to take necessary precautions immediately. It is highly advisable to have a supply of food, water, medications, fuel for generators, and other essential items on hand.
Please exercise caution when traveling around the county as hazardous weather conditions are likely to result in downed trees and powerlines, localized flooding, roadway impediments, and possible debris flows. There is a potential for multiple road closures throughout the county. The Russian River at Hopland and the Navarro River at Navarro are likely to surpass the flood stage if current weather forecasting holds. If you must travel, please be aware of the current road conditions, respect all road closures, do not attempt to drive through flooded areas, assume all downed power lines are still energized, and be aware that first responders and work crews will be active throughout the weekend.
Reminder, be aware and move over for road crews, PG&E and first responders. For additional preparedness information, residents can visit www.mendoready.org and follow the County of Mendocino Facebook page for situational updates.
Conditions may vary widely across North Coast microclimates, and on your travel routes, so we’ve included a list of useful resources to keep you updated at the bottom of this article. You can check for the specific forecast for your neighborhood and on current road conditions as they develop.
Prepare for the wind by securing any outdoor objects and readying yourself for possible power outages. If you’re going to travel through regions under winter weather warnings, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency and drive safely. Use extra caution when driving, especially high profile vehicles. Find tips on staying safe during high wind events here.
Note: Kate Fishman covers the environment & natural resources for The Mendocino Voice in partnership with a Report For America. Her position is funded by the Community Foundation of Mendocino, Report for America, & our readers. You can support Fishman’s work with a tax-deductible donation here or by emailing [email protected]. Contact her at KFishman@mendovoice.com or at (707) 234-7735. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.