The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is preparing for a series of storms in the next ten days that could potentially bring additional flooding to communities already inundated by recent downpours. The storm battering the state today is the third in a series of atmospheric river storms that have impacted northern California in the space of a week.
Earlier today, DWR Director Karla Nemeth participated in a media briefing with California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot and officials from the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES).
“We are in the middle of a flood emergency and also in the middle of a drought emergency. This is an extreme weather event and we’re moving from extreme drought to extreme flood. What that means is a lot of our trees are stressed, after three years of intensive drought, the ground is saturated and there is significant chance of downed trees that will create significant problems. Potentially flooding problems, potentially power problems. That is really the signature of this particular event,” said DWR Director Nemeth.
Yesterday, DWR activated the State-Federal Flood Operations Center (FOC) and has been closely monitoring and communicating forecasts and making high-water notification calls to keep locals and partner agencies informed of elevated river levels. The FOC is working closely with the National Weather Service, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the United States Bureau of Reclamation, CalOES, and California counties, and is participating in coordination calls to take proactive steps to respond and prepare for impacts from flooding statewide.
Flood fight materials and equipment have been prepared for deployment to 49 locations statewide to support state and local responses. Levee inspectors and flood fight specialists have also been deployed to perform levee inspections across the state and help local agencies assess critical locations along leveed segments of the flood control system.
Several weirs along the Sacramento River (Colusa, Tisdale, Freemont Weirs) are functioning as planned and are relieving pressure off the Sacramento River levee system as designed. The Sacramento Weir will be opened as needed based on system conditions.
The timing between storms will be important for river levels to come down between water rises, but DWR officials anticipate that more areas will become more susceptible to flooding with each successive storm.
“Another two storms are expected to arrive next week. As those storms progress, as we have multiple storms in sequence, it doesn’t require the same amount of precipitation to inflict significant damage. So, we need all Californians to be attentive to their local county emergency response services and if you do get the word to evacuate, you do need to evacuate.”
In the past 10 years the state has committed $369 million in funding for levee repair and rehabilitation to improve the state’s levee system. Additionally, the state has spent $825 million on urban flood risk reduction projects, including levees, weirs and bypasses since 2017.