Flooded area along Russian River at Guerneville February 27, 2019

Holly Quan/KCBS Radio

Russian River Flood Could be Worst in 25 Years

Guerneville Isolated as Waters Rise Quickly

KCBS Radio Morning News
February 27, 2019 - 7:07 am

GUERNEVILLE (KCBS Radio) -- Water rose quickly on the Russian River on Wednesday, with a crest forecast for Wednesday night. The National Weather Service forecast the river would reach 46 feet at Guerneville, which would mark the sixth-highest level ever recorded.

The flood had turned Guerneville into a tempoary island with all roads into the historic town covered by water. Parts of the neaby towns of Monte Rio and Rio Nido were also under water.

By 8 a.m., the river had reached 42.52 feet in Guerneville. Nearby gauges indicated a rise of four feet in just one hour earlier in the morning. The rapid rise had residents and reporters scrambling to move vehicles they had thought were safe from the rising waters. Flood stage is 32 feet; the 40-foot level is considered "major" flooding.

Sonoma County authorities had earlier ordered evacuations in the area, covering about 4,000 people. Members of their marine unit had been dispatched in boats to rescue people who hadn't made it out. 

In Napa County, the the Napa River had hit the flood stage too, but a bypass system appeared to be effectively minimizing the impact. 

The storm had created pockets of power outages around the Bay Area. At its height, there were 11,000 customers without power overnight, but by 10:30 a.m., the number had been reduced to roughly 6,400 North Bay customers without electricity and several hundred others scattered around the Bay Area. 

Many roads in the North Bay were impassable, either due to flooding or other obstacles. A mudslide several hundred feet long had blocked Bohemian Highway on Tuesday afternoon. The artery is one of the main roads into Guerneville, Monte Rio and Rio Nido. Officials warned that it could be blocked for several days. 

Holly Quan and Matt Bigler contributed reporting.