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June 26, 2022

This Week in H’burg: Flood markers, not this year.

This Week in H’burg is a weekly column featuring photos and fun facts from local photographer Pierre Ratté. Each week we’ll feature a new photo from Ratté along with a fact about the subject matter of the photo.
Sonoma County and Healdsburg are experiencing “Extreme Drought,” labeled “D3” on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Droughts are classified into 5 categories, D0 – D4 inclusive, with the most severe, “Exceptional Drought,” labeled D4. In an Exceptional Drought, fish need rescue and relocation, forest mortality rates rise, native plants die back and the earth bakes and cracks. In the classification we are in now,  Extreme Drought, water is deemed inadequate for agriculture, wildlife and urban needs, reservoirs are low and hydropower may be restricted. Water conservation, including use of gray water, is recommended in order to stretch usage. The U.S. Drought Monitor, from which these descriptions are drawn, is a joint effort of federal agencies, including: USDA (US Department of Agriculture), NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration) and NDMC (National Drought Mitigation Center)
The picture above, quaintly, records flood stages of the Russian River on a barn near the Alexander Valley Bridge. This year we face a drought, but water flows are not always meager.  As recently as February 27, 2019, the Russian River crested at 45.4 feet, the 6th highest flood in history, which is 40’ higher than May 2021’s average level.  Other high water marks, reported in order of magnitude, were:  48.8’ on 2/18/1986; 48.0’ on 1/10/95; 47.6’ on 12/23/1955; 47.4’ on 12/23/1964; 46.9’ on 2/28/1940; 45.4’ on 2/27/2019; 45.0’ on 1/1/1997; 42.5’ on 1/5/1966; 42.1’ on 2/18/1879; 41.8’ on 1/1/2006; 41.5’ on 3/10/1995; 41.3’ on 1/24/1970; 41.1’ on 2/1/1963; 40.7’ on 1/17/1974; 40.4’ on 1/27/1983; and 40.2’ on 2/25/1958.
Pierre Ratté posts a daily picture on Instagram, Facebook and TodayinHburg.com. He can be reached at [email protected] His book “100 Days Sheltering-In-Place” can be purchased at Levin’s and Copperfield’s bookstores, TodayinHburg.com or Amazon.com.