As many of you know, we’ve been wrestling with drought in California for the past several years — I think officially the number is five years. Here in the foothills, our usual natural disaster is wildfire, and drought makes fires more likely, more dangerous, and harder to fight because water reserves are low. This means that a lot of us have hoped and prayed for rain. Well, we got it. We had a wet October, which was great. Then we had some more storms in November and December. And then…
…came January. Oh, wow. Here is the difference a week made. Chula at the old 49 bridge before the January storm, and Sharon in almost the same spot, during the storm.
My house is 15 minutes from this crossing, and although a seasonal creek runs below it, it’s far enough away not to be dangerous, even when it rises, as it certainly did. But nothing like the Yuba.
Much of Nevada City is built on a series of hills, but there are famous problem areas, such as this restaurant at the confluence of Deer Creek and Little Deer Creek. In my time it’s been Kirby’s Creekside, Amigos, and now Lefty’s Grill.
Local people helped the owners and employees sandbag (at first) and then move everything they could from the kitchen and lower dining room to the upstairs. Flood waters leaked up through the floor boards inside to a level of at least two feet. Here’s what Little Deer Creek was doing earlier in the day, where it flows beside Pioneer Park.
My coaching office is across the street from Lefty’s, through one parking lot, second building on the right. This sweet little creek meanders past its back door before racing through the culvert and emptying out at Lefty’s. It crept up to the third step and flooded the downstairs apartment on the creek side but did not get to our offices.
For a while the culvert held, but then we got two surprises: one was a sink hole in the parking lot…
and the other was the creek taking a right turn and flooding the intersection when the culvert began backing up.
This meant that water was flowing into Lefty’s from below, as the creeks rose, and also through their front door at this street level as the intersection flooded. Here’s a scientific friend’s graph of the water levels of the South Yuba in cubic feet per second at Jones Bar. The two spikes in mid-December are 12,000 and 15,000 cfs. The small bump on January 4th is 5,000 cfs. The big one on Jan. 9th and 10th is 26,000 cfs.
NNOA is saying the drought is officially over for Northern California, which is wonderful news.
But guess what? It’s just started raining again…