Stockton has received nearly double its average yearly precipitation thus far this rainy season, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather service reports the Central Valley city is at about 198% of its normal rainfall for the current rain year, which runs from the beginning of October through the end of September. It’s a stark contrast to last winter, which saw the driest January, February and March in California on record.
Stockton typically receives 10.62 inches of rain on average by this time in the season, NWS meteorologist Idamis Del Valle-Shoemaker told Stocktonia Wednesday morning. But she says the city’s current precipitation total sits at more than 21 inches.
California has been hit with a series of storm systems since late December that have brought widespread flooding, heavy snowfall, power outages, down trees, thunderstorms and even a tornado. Several people have also been killed in the last few months due to the state’s extreme weather events.
San Joaquin County declared a local state of emergency Tuesday for the second time this year due to the compounding effects of the continuous stream of atmospheric rivers that have battered the state. The county has also been added to California’s emergency declaration on Sunday, which includes 40 of the state’s 58 counties
Gov. Gavin Newsom also requested and was approved for a presidential emergency declaration last week for the second time this year.
Stockton saw about more than an inch of rain the previous 72 hours ending Wednesday morning, Del Valle-Shoemaker said. Though more high wind impacts were reported for San Joaquin County from this week’s storm than precipitation — wind gusts reportedly reached 44 miles per hour in Stockton — compared to other areas of the state.
Sunny skies returned to the Central Valley Wednesday following a week of almost daily rainfall, providing a reprieve as river water levels have risen. But the weather service forecasted Wednesday that the dry weather would still be accompanied by “residual flooding.”
“We do have some rizes on the lower San Joaquin River system, and they (will) move through the river system over the next couple of days,” Del Valle-Shoemaker said, noting that there are two areas in southern San Joaquin County that should be watched heading into the weekend.
According to the weather services’ River Forecast Center, the San Joaquin River at Mossdale Bridge, located between Manteca and Tracy, will rise just about the near flood stage this weekend. The river’s water levels in the area are sitting at nearly 19 feet — the “Near flood Stage” classification goes into effect at 19.5 feet — and forecasted to rise another 8 inches or so by Monday. The river would then need to rise another foot to be considered at “Flood Stage.”
A little further south near the county line where the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers converge, areas around the unincorporated community of Vernalis could reach “Minor Flood Stage” (29 feet) by the weekend.
Tiffany Heyer, San Joaquin County director of emergency operations, says the county is closely monitoring both areas.
“Waterways have fluctuated significantly since the beginning of the year,” Heyer said. “Typically, the flows and levels are determined by releases from upstream reservoirs, but runoff has contributed in the aftermath of the storms. The rain generally contributes to smaller streams and creeks.”
Heyer described the Versalis area as mostly rural with a population that could be up to about 5,000. The Mossdale gauge is in a more populated area, she says, though water levels at Mossdale “only crosses into the monitor stage at this time.”
“Reclamation districts will continue patrols to monitor the situation,” Heyer said.
Rain is expected to return to the Central Valley late Saturday, starting with “light to locally moderate precipitation” through the weekend followed by a stronger weather system heading into next week, the national weather service says. Stockton could receive another inch or more of rainfall when Monday’s storm system rolls into the area.
The County, Emergency Operations Center, and local reclamation districts are keeping track of water levels and river forecasts and will monitor levees when water reaches specified levels,” Heyer said. “We encourage community members to visit SJReady.org for information on emergency planning tips, resources, and up to date information on possible evacuation locations.”
Residents can also text “SJStorms” to 888777 for text notifications by zip code, Heyer added.
Nearly all of California had been experiencing serious drought conditions for the last three years but, following recent storms, about 44% of the state — including San Joaquin County — is no longer experiencing drought conditions.
Del Valle-Shoemaker says it isn’t out of the ordinary for California to experience variable weather conditions.
“It’s not constant, … as compared to other places,” Del Valle-Shoemaker said. “We’ve had years of drought, and then we have periods of above normal precipitation.”