ContentsPutah and Cache: Willow Slough and Creeks' Ends

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Flood Journal

Amy J. Boyer

1/8/95 Sun. 3:00 PM. It's rained six of the last seven days. Putah Creek is brown, swirling up over the first low bank. A solitary duck swims—or is dragged along. On the way back we check Dry Slough, just south of us at the junction of 95 and 31. It's far higher than we've ever seen it—about a foot below the arch of the bridge, coming up around the blackberries on the south side. We talk about whether the water could come up over the bridge. But from the current surface of the slough, the ground slopes slowly on the north, hardly at all on the south. It'll take a long time for it to get over the bridge.

1/9/95 Mon. 9:00 PM. I go out to investigate the slough and just to experience the weather. Peepers are chirping merrily along. I get to a low spot in the field east of 95; it's not a low spot any more, but a channel with water flowing through. The field west of 95 is flooded—in places the water is only 1 1/2-2 feet below the surface of the road—& water goes through a culvert under the road. It's muddy and swirling like Putah Creek & the slough. When I get to the slough it's 3-4 feet below the top of the bridge. On the south side of the bridge the water is over the road. I try to see how far the water reaches but in the dark & rain I can't, even with my powerful flashlight.

1/10/95 Tue. We all go to look at the pond in back. Nearly dry a week ago, it's overflowing—in fact, it goes straight to the slough. The sun's out and spectacular clouds are in the sky. Theo sees a bit of rainbow. I see a heron perched on a tree. The wind has died down. It looks as though it was all meant to be this way.

1/20/95 Fri. The water has gone down ever since Tue. PM. There are some huge deposits of silt. Lots of mudslides on Highway 128. Mudslides at Cold Canyon too—I went on Sunday and got myself a nasty case of poison oak clambering around the slides. One is basically a boulder field and new gully, one is a new creek tributary, one is nothing much. From these small events come, slowly, great things.


12/13/95 Wed. It spat occasionally all week. There was a newspaper article saying we'd likely have a dry winter; with normal rainfall to the end of the season, we'd have 80% of normal; only about 0.1" had fallen.

Then Mon. the rain started. High winds and the rain pouring at times. On Tues. it was still looking stormy; some rain was falling, but the wind was the worst problem. The slough was dry Mon. evening despite gentle rain all day. By Tues. AM (7:30) it was half-way up. A few places water had come up onto the road, but it was just a matter of driving around the puddles. Power was out everywhere.

In AM went to Vacaville to the dentist. Then bought candles and drinking water. Decided to come back on 505, because I figured the water couldn't have risen enough to flood 505 by then, & Covell probably wouldn't be much worse than it had been. In fact, the low stretch by D-QU was flooded, muddy water rushing over the road for 1/10 mile, punctuated by dark tufts of blown branches, even a log or two. I shifted into first, but came into it too fast and the ocher water sprayed up over the windshield. Wonder if that's why people go over the side of the road, because they blind themselves. I was terrified of stalling, so went slow, but being terrified wanted to go faster. Car held up and I didn't hit any logs.

Tues. afternoon the sun had come out. It was still windy as hell. The way the trees were moving—and changing color, showing the backs of their leaves—they looked animate, freakish. It was warm, too. I was wearing too many clothes.

On the way home from UCD I saw what looked like a coyote bolting across a plowed field. The field south of the alfalfa field was flooded. It was whipped up into waves, but it reflected the blue sky above. The blue on the yellow-brown water made the whole field look purple, or puce. When I got to the slough I looked over—it was nearly bankfull, rushing along as it does.

Today I biked down to it. It had gone down about 3-4 feet. I could see the sand deposited on the banks. Levee building in progress, though these depositions just narrow the slough—it hadn't gone over the top. There's an ugly gully running from the field south of the bridge into the slough. We had another storm today after an overcast morning: sudden high winds, rain smacking against the window, so hard everything goes gray. There's been thunder and lightning. It's still raining, though not as hard.

The slough has hardly risen, but water is rushing down the gully from the field. Water runs around the ditch dug along its edge. That field had been flooded yesterday morning on the way out, then dry on the way back (well, draining). I wonder if there was some blockage that had to break before the field could drain, and the piled up water carved out the gully.

Mon. night I told Mom, it'll take a week and a half of storms like this before it floods. Now I think it's a day and a half.

There's a rim of orangy (pale) sunset in the SW corner of the sky, so this bit may be all the storm we get today. Rain to date: 3.63", most of it in the last 48 hours.

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