Friday, December 30, 2005

Live, from Chico, California!

It's being called the largest storm in the last 7 years, and we decided to go driving right in the middle of it. For this New Year's holiday, my wife and I are visiting her family in Chico, and then driving tomorrow to Discovery Bay, a little wealthy community west of Stockton. It isn't simply a drive, it's an adventure!

For those of you that are not in Northern California and the Northwest, we have been slammed by the "Perfect Pineapple Express", a series of storms that stretch across the South Pacific and are aimed right at California. This creates 5-6 days of straight rain, followed by a day of relief, and then more rain. It has been this way for weeks now, since about the 17th of December. Well, the really nasty part arrived this morning, just as we left Ukiah. It rained the entire 3 hour drive here, and then became really windy as we entered the Sacramento Valley. So far, it has not stopped raining since we arrived and the wind is topping 50 mph. What's worse is that the worst of it is supposed to be tomorrow, when we drive to Discovery Bay, which is in the middle of the Sacramento Delta, of course. Well, if we make it, we make it. If not, then we are watching "The Ball" drop from the cozy confines of our home.

I noticed that a small town called Gurneville (pronounced "Gurnvill") was on the NBC Nightly News this evening because the Russian River is cresting about 10 feet about flood stage. That isn't much of a surprise around here. Gurneville is about 90 minutes south and west of Ukiah (which is close to the upper Russian River, but doesn't flood), and they are always looking at flooding. Other places of concern are the Napa River at St. Helena, the Russian River at Healdsburg (which is more disconcerting, considering the dollars in that town), and the Navarro River near Highway 1, which floods every year. Oh, and by the way, don't think about heading north on Highway 101. The road is covered in a mudslide at Confusion Hill north of Leggett and is closed for the foreseeable future. And there is no detour. Here in Chico the news is the Sacramento River, which is flooding just about everywhere. We came across near Willows and nearly every road between Highway 32 and Colusa that cross the river are totally impassable. Highway 32 in Hamilton City is fine, but they are looking at the river cresting about 13 feet above flood stage tomorrow. Tubing anyone?

If you live in California, do yourself a favor. Stay home!
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