Stockton broke multiple rain records last month as Northern California ended the year with a holiday storm system that pummeled the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys with high levels of precipitation and caused widespread flooding.
In 1955, Stockton saw just over 8 inches (8.05 inches, to be exact) of rain in December, according to the National Weather Service. It was a record that stood for nearly 70 years.
The city washed that December record away by an almost half inch (8.50 inches) as of midnight on Sunday. But that wasn’t the only record broken last month.
Stockton also beat its daily record for Dec. 31 from 2005 (.79 inches), weather service meteorologist Cory Mueller told Stocktonia this week, with the city seeing 2.38 inches of precipitation from “midnight to midnight” Saturday.
“You crushed the old record,” Mueller said.
Both the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys saw several inches of rain last week as multiple weather systems dumped precipitation over California’s Central Valley, the largest of which hit over the holiday weekend, bringing widespread flooding, major road closures, property damage, power loss and at least one death.
The areas hit hardest this weekend were the southern areas of the Sacramento Valley and the northern areas of the San Joaquin Valley, Mueller said. He added that the New Year’s Eve Storm was “pretty impressive for December, that’s for sure.”
“Really, the whole month of December has been impressive for the Sacramento, Stockton area,” Mueller said, noting they both have seen a “very wet” month.
Both San Joaquin County and the city of Stockton have declared local emergencies due to the series of weather systems that moved through area last week since Wednesday and compounded by the weekend’s storm, which county officials said have caused extreme damage to the safety of people and property with the county, including local flooding of communities and local infrastructure and extraordinary stress upon levees and water systems.”
The county’s Office of Emergency Services is also still collecting damage estimates.
But the region isn’t out of the woods yet.
More weather systems will move through the area this week, with a particularly strong storm expected to bring moderate to heavy rainfall and, thus, additional flooding Wednesday to Thursday.
The highest levels of precipitation will likely occur overnight Wednesday, Mueller said. But for the next two weeks there will be multiple weather systems that moving through the area “back to back,” with maybe some short dry periods hear and there.
So far Tuesday and Friday are forecasted to be dry, according to the weather service.
“We’ve moved into a really, really active weather pattern that moved in after Christmas,” Mueller said. “It looks like it’s gonna stick around probably until the middle of the month.”
More storms mean more chances for flooding, despite the state experiencing extreme drought conditions for the past three years. Last year, California saw its driest January, February and March in more than 100 years.
“It’s normal to not be normal in California,” Mueller said. He noted that the state’s winter being either dry or rainy is typical. “It’s part of how the climate is here. It’s very feast or famine.”
Though extreme dryness — such as last year’s winter — is out of the ordinary, he added.
However, Mueller says prolonged dry conditions do not equate to a landscape that can handle heavy precipitation in such a short amount of time.
“The ground likes it slow and steady,” Mueller said, noting the ground can’t absorb that much water at once. “All of these (weather systems) are going to add up, and we’re going to see more and more flooding impacts.”
Areas of the southern Sacramento and norther San Joaquin valleys are forecasted to receive another 1 to 3 inches of rain from Wednesday to Thursday, Muller said. Both days will be “pretty wet,” he added.
One of the main things people should remember in the coming days is to avoid flooded roadways, Mueller says. These areas are dangerous because it’s hard to gauge how deep the water is or how fast it’s rising.
One person was found dead inside a submerged vehicle along a flooded roadway in south Sacramento County.
“It’s not worth it,” he said.