Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Water is High………

Living alongside the Sacramento River is pretty good most of the time.  Until we get a wet winter like this one.  The streams and rivers are all running high right now..  Today, I took advantage of a break between storms to walk over to the levee to see how high the water is with my own eyes.  And to take a few pictures.. Of course.

And.. Yeah.  The water level is pretty high.  Flood stage on the Sacramento River in this area is at 70’ and according to the California Department of Water Resources website, right now the river level is about 67’.   Thankfully, the water levels are supposed to drop a little on Monday or Tuesday..  So far, from all reports that I’ve heard and read, the levees along the Sacramento River are holding up pretty well.  When the water is high like it is now, the levee districts have people patrolling the levees looking for any problem spots..  The reason the river is running so high right now is that Shasta Dam is dumping lots of water because Shasta Lake is uncomfortably close to capacity and the snow melt hasn't even begun yet.  It's the same situation on the other rivers in the area.  The Feather River is running high because Oroville is dumping water.  The American River is running high as well because the dams upstream are also making room for the snow melt.  Last week I read in one of the Sacramento papers that the summit of the Sierras had received something like 57 feet of snow and it was still snowing.. Hard.  Well, it's still snowing up there today and has been almost constantly for the past week.

Anyway, I thought I’d give you a couple pictures to compare.  Keep in mind that the photos are taken from opposite sides of the bridge and during different seasons…   The first picture was taken this afternoon and the second one was taken last June when CalTrans did a test of the mechanism that opens the bridge.  (Yes, it's a "draw" bridge, it just happens to be on a turntable.)
 As you can see from the pictures, the water level is pretty different between the two.. Be sure to note the difference on the bridge support below the up-rights on the structure.  (Sorry about not getting a shot from the same side of the bridge today.  I tried to go up on the South side of the bridge, but it was too muddy and too slick.  I didn't really feel like crawling up the side of the levee on my hands and knees.. So I used the access road on the North Side of the bridge.. You can see it in the picture below that shows both the river and the road.)

As I stood there watching the water flow past, I spotted a tree (Or the remains of a tree that fell in the river somewhere upstream.) coming down towards the bridge so I waited a bit to see where it was going to go... Under the bridge or get caught on the bridge supports.  This one went under the center span, but it's common for trees, limbs and other debris to get caught on the supports.
It's hard to tell in this image how much higher the water is than the road.  My estimate is that it's about 10 to 12 feet above the road surface.  All over town, the low areas have become pools of water that are seeping in from the river.  Including my own yard.  The back yard is mushy and I don't live right next to the levee.  The "joy" comes this coming week.  The sun is supposed to be out and the weather is going to warm up.  The river level will go down a foot or so, but the seepage puddles are still going to be there.  What does that mean for the little town of Meridian?  Mosquitoes!  It only takes a few nice days to hatch out scads of the pesky insects.  Oh "joy".

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