The Klamath reached historic levels early Friday morning, but U.S. 101 was spared the worst of the flooding, Del Norte Emergency Services Manager Cindy Henderson said.
The Klamath River crested at 41.65 feet at about 5 a.m. Friday, the fourth-highest level on record, knocking a previous flood of 40.52 feet on Dec. 29, 2005, to fifth place, according to the National Weather Service.
The waters were just under the moderate flood stage classification, which is 42 feet. One lane of Highway 169 was affected by flooding. A few campers at Golden Bear RV Resort on U.S. 101 were asked to evacuate, and the field on either side of Requa Road looked like an ocean, Henderson said.
As of about 10:30 a.m., however, Klamath Beach Road on the east side of U.S. 101 was the only road to still be completely underwater, Henderson said.
“That one is probably under water about 6–8 feet underneath the bridge,” she said, adding that Klamath Beach Road is impacted when water levels are at minor flood stage of 38 feet. “We worked closely with Resighini to make sure residents were notified that they were going to become isolated. There are not very many; probably a dozen or so.”
Flood waters were already beginning to recede Friday. The Klamath was at 37.4 feet as of 5:20 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.
Henderson said she was notified by CalTrans between 10 and 11 p.m. Thursday that they were prepared to shut down U.S. 101 if needed. And the Klamath Volunteer Fire Department, Yurok Tribal officials and Del Norte Search and Rescue were stationed in Klamath Glen in case flood waters isolated that community. But she was breathing a sigh of relief Friday morning.
“I think we dodged a bullet,” she said. “I’m just documenting so I can see what 41 feet looks like for the future. It’s good to be able to see firsthand where the water came to so we know exactly, or pretty darn close, what’s going to flood and what’s not going to flood.”
The weather conditions also prompted Del Norte County Unified School District officials to cancel school at Margaret Keating on Friday. Bus service to and from Klamath was also canceled.
The series of warm moist systems that caused the Klamath River to swell dumped 3.35 inches of rain on Crescent City in 48 hours, according to NWS meteorologist Matthew Kidwell. More than an inch fell on Crescent City in about six hours starting at 4 a.m. Friday. The mountains above Crescent City received 7.19 inches of rain in the past 48 hours, Kidwell said Friday morning.
That last inch of precipitation received early Friday morning caused overall rain totals for Crescent City to surpass what the NWS considers a normal water year. Crescent City had received 63.07 inches of rain from October through midnight on Friday, according to Kidwell.
“The normal for the entire year is 64.03,” he said Friday. “We’ve already received over an inch, so we should be above the annual total already as of this morning.”
Del Norte is expected to dry out this weekend enough of an offshore flow to keep any clouds at bay, Kidwell said.
Another wet system is expected to make an appearance with light rain starting Tuesday, according to the NWS. There will be periods of light to occasionally moderate rain through the day Thursday. Then widespread rain showers and higher elevation snow showers Thursday night through the day next Friday.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org.