Eduardo Garcia, left, watches his father Saul Garcia shovel sand into sandbags at the Healdsburg Community Center on Wednesday, Jan. 4, to help secure their Healdsburg home from expected heavy runoff. (Christian Kallen)

The atmospheric river that swept across Northern California last week caused flooding in the central valley and foothill rivers to overflow their banks, but the effects were relatively benign in Healdsburg. But another similar phenomenon is slamming into the state as the Tribune goes to press.

Another atmospheric river—a narrow channel of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere, also called a tropical plume—is literally pouring over the north coast this week, and was expected to crest on Wednesday with over three inches of rain that day. The center of that storm however is expected to pass to the south of San Francisco and the peninsula. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) stated on Tuesday, “An atmospheric river, similar in strength or stronger than the New Years Eve storm, will spread heavy rain across the region as early as Wednesday through Thursday. Early forecasts show widespread 2-4 inch rainfall totals in the lower elevations with 3-6 inches in the hills while the wettest peaks of the North Bay, Mt Tamalpais, Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Lucia Range could see 8-10 inch rain amounts with this atmospheric river.  

“Given the saturated soils and recent rains we can expect rapid responses on smaller creeks with quick rises on the mainstem rivers Wednesday through Friday. This system will result in an increased risk of mudslides and debris flows across the region and especially over recent wildfire burn areas,” the NWS continued.

Last week, the Russian River depth gauge never approached 20 feet, the minimum flood level at the Camp Rose station, cresting at about 12 feet on Sunday. But this time, runoff is expected to be more dramatic, and river levels are expected to rise higher. Long range models suggest more rain over the weekend and through mid-month.

Out of an abundance of caution, the City of Healdsburg has opened a sandbag fill station at the Healdsburg Community Center (1557 Healdsburg Ave.).

Sand and empty bags will be provided, but residents should bring a shovel to fill the bags, gloves to protect hands and someone to assist in filling the bags 

For more information on how to fill and use sandbags, visit, and scroll down to “Resources.” For more information on flooding, visit

For questions or concerns regarding minor street flooding, call the city’s Emergency Utility Hotline at 707-431-7000. For emergencies that pose a threat to life and/or property, always dial 9-1-1.

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