Rain, wind & lightning cause trouble

The 'grand staircase' at River Walk Park descends into a rising Sacramento river, in this photo taken earlier this week. At the far right is the edge of the 'ziggurat' building, housing the state Department of General Services. As of 3/23, this photo has not yet been published in the print edition of the News-Ledger. (ERIC HARDING, www.ebharding.com)

March 23, 2011

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Storms passing through the region have caused a bunch of local trouble, particularly over last weekend. But officials say rising river levels don’t yet cause a major flooding threat, even with more rain on the way.

The city’s emergency operations center, ramped up when a crisis is anticipated, is now in “pilot light mode,” said Gary Frederickson, Division Chief for the West Sacramento Fire Department.

“The next storm is supposed to be a pretty good storm,” he added. “But we’re lucky because it’s a cold one, which means less rain (to pour down the rivers) and more snow.”

“Tomorrow, the bypass is projected to hit the flood stage at 19 feet. There’s still plenty of room, but it’s one thing we’re watching.”

   Others watching the water levels and the levees include city flood protection manager Michael Bessette, staff of the local reclamation districts, and staff from the Department of Water Resources.

“Currently, the water level in the Sacramento River at I Street is at elevation 25.0, which is at the ‘monitor’ stage,” Bessette reported in an email to city staff. “(The California Data Exchange Center) is predicting that the Sacramento River levels should remain in the 25 foot range through Wednesday afternoon. City staff have conducted one Emergency Operation Center (EOC) meeting to get all departments notified of the current status and to remain vigilant should weather conditions become more adverse.”

To report flooding problems, he said, citizens may contact the public works department at 617-4850, or the EOC at 617-4750. Emergencies can also be reported by calling 911.

Those who need sandbags to protect property may pick them up at 1951 South River Road.

For current river levels, visit www.cityofwestsacramento.org/city/flood/emergencyprep.asp.

Over the weekend, there were problems in West Sacramento from wind, rain and even lightning.

“We had a pretty good lightning storm go through town on the 19th (Saturday) at around 11 p.m.,” said Frederikson. A home on the 1800-block of Virginia Avenue was hit.

“The lightning knocked the power out and knocked off the lead that comes from the power line to the house,” he said. “It caused a lot of smoke, but we were unable to find any fire in the house.”

Although other strikes were reported, “we had no fires or downed trees from lightning strikes,” he added.

The storm knocked down power lines at 19th and Delaware, leading to a local power outage there for about 24 hours. And the wind and rain downed a large Sycamore tree in the area near E, F and 7th streets, blocking a road temporarily.

In Southport, one spot was still not navigable as of Tuesday morning:

“On Gregory Avenue, just past Davis Road, it’s closed right now because there’s a big culvert that just got washed out,” said Frederickson on Tuesday. “We’re in the process of putting in some metal plates, and we hope to have it open today.”

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