the first major storm of autumn threatening to dump snow and rain
over Northern California this weekend, environmental officials are
scrambling to contain potentially toxic runoff from the ash and
debris of wine country burn zones.
storm - a soggy cold front flowing south from Vancouver, British
Columbia - will reach the state by Friday and drop up to 4 inches of
rain in the northern Sierra Nevada, said Chris Hintz, a meteorologist
with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
addition to raising concerns about the runoff from neighborhoods
devastated by wildfires, heavy rains also could trigger rock slides
in Yosemite, officials say.
to an inch and a half of rain could fall across Napa and Sonoma
valleys, where a month ago, a series of wind-driven wildfires ripped
through several communities, killing dozens of people and destroying
thousands of homes.
flames, authorities say, were fueled by an abundance of light, flashy
vegetation that sprang up after one of the wettest winters on record
and then was dried out by the hottest summer on record.
areas scorched by the wildfires are littered with melted metals and
plastics that pose a potential health hazard, authorities say.
Several local, county, state and federal agencies have banded
together to try to mitigate the threat, they announced Tuesday.
agencies have created a model of the possible paths rain runoff will
take after soaking hard-hit burn areas like Santa Rosa, while a
regional water board is piling sandbags and installing straw wattles
to contain debris. The water board also is helping to clean storm
drains to prevent flooding.
rural areas, agencies are installing debris-capture devices in
culverts and ditches to block debris and downed trees from clogging
waterways. Water control officials and scientists from the U.S.
Geological Survey are teaming up to monitor water quality amid the
second cold front is expected in Northern California on Monday but
probably will pack less rain, Hintz said.
the first storm moves south this weekend, it will dump up to 3 inches
of rain in Yosemite Valley, which was hard hit by rain earlier this
year and experienced flooding over the summer, said Kevin Durfee of
the National Weather Service's Hanford office.
more good than bad. The bad part is we have some wildfire burn
scars," Durfee said, referring to the 81,000 acres burned by the
Detwiler fire in Mariposa County that destroyed 63 homes over the
Portal Road, a continuation of Highway 140 through the park, may
close because of the danger of rock slides, Durfee warned. A massive
slide earlier this year dumped 4,000 tons of rock onto the road,
damaging a 100-foot section that was closed for a week in June. More
rain could trigger another fall, he said. Park officials had not
announced a road closure as of Wednesday.
rain, or what's left of it, likely will reach Southern California by
Sunday and disappear by Monday. It should amount to less than an
inch, the National Weather Service said.