News


Palo Altans nervously watch San Francisquito Creek

 

Many north Palo Alto residents were carefully watching San Francisquito Creek flow with strength through the Pope-Chaucer Street Bridge late Thursday afternoon, as consistent rain continued to fall and was predicted to do so for the next several hours.

Jordan Gruber, who's lived near this section of San Francisquito Creek since its infamous flooding in 1998, said around 3 p.m. he'd been back and forth to the creek throughout the day to monitor the rising water level.

"If it rains another five to six hours, it's going to go over," he predicted.

The city's live creek monitor shows the creek at Chaucer approaching 50 percent capacity (13 feet) with 12.1 feet as of 9 p.m.

San Francisquito Creek capacity at West Bayshore Road hit 50 percent (8 feet) in the late afternoon. Seventy percent capacity for that section of the creek is 11 feet. Matadero Creek at Bayshore is at about one foot below half capacity as of 9 p.m.

Adobe Creek at East Meadow Drive is also approaching 50 percent capacity (6.4 feet), with 5.1 feet recorded.

San Francisquito Creek at Waverley Street remains lower – about 8 feet away from 50 percent capacity.

Gruber picked up a total of 20 sandbags in the last few days, hoping to protect his driveway or deck, both of which were flooded in 1998. He said if worst comes to worst, he'll start to put valuables on the second floor of his house.

Mitch Slomiak, who lives on the Menlo Park side of the creek and serves as vice-chair of Menlo Park's Environmental Quality Commission, said what's more concerning for him than potential flooding is the fact that San Francisquito Creek is supposed to be fully running four to six months per year and this year ran for about three to four weeks.

"That's much more anxiety producing than the flood," Slomiak said as he watched the creek.

But if it does flood, at least it will put more "political pressure" on the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority flood-control project for the region, Gruber said.

View the City of Palo Alto's live monitors on the city's creeks (San Francisquito, Matadero and Adobe) here.

Palo Alto police, who recommended that commuters avoid driving between the hours of 2 and 8 p.m. on Thursday, reported at about 4:15 p.m. that one lane of eastbound Embarcadero Road at Churchill Avenue had been closed. At about 4:30 p.m., police reported that one lane of southbound Alma Street at Lytton Avenue had been closed as well.

Police reported at about 8 p.m. that southbound West Bayshore Road has been now shut down from Loma Verde to Fabian Way. Northbound remains open.

The police department is updating its Twitter and Facebook pages with any major closures and information.

The City of Palo Alto is also periodically updating a map of road hazards, closures, flooding and other incidents here.

Related content:

Palo Alto roads, underpasses flooding; roads closing

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Brad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2014 at 7:47 pm

It doesn't matter when the creek over-tops at Chaucer. Long before that happens the storm drains will back-flow out of the creek and into the streets flooding basements. Last time (2012?) this happened when the level was about 13 ft at Chaucer.


Like this comment
Posted by Brad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm

It doesn't matter when the creek over-tops at Chaucer. Long before that happens the storm drains will back-flow out of the creek and into the streets flooding basements. Last time (2012?) this happened when the level was about 13 ft at Chaucer.


2 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Of course it matters. It matters when storm drains back up and cause big flooding, it matters when the creek floods its banks, as it did in 2012 and 1998 and I may be missing other recent years. It all matters.


1 person likes this
Posted by Pat
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 11, 2014 at 8:48 pm

The creek level at the Chaucer Street bridge reached 22.5 feet on December 23, 2012.


Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2014 at 8:52 pm

@Brad - part of the storm drain improvement that has been going on the last few years is the installation of flap gates where the drains flow in the the creek. So hopefully that prevents back flow.


Like this comment
Posted by The Shadow knows.....
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2014 at 10:26 pm

@ Mr Recycle -

Well yes, but then the runoff from the streets backs up and still inundates adjacent properties. Same result, just a different cause. All due to insufficient capacity in the creek channel to handle the total runoff from both the foothills and flatlands.


Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2014 at 11:03 pm

You are right, it doesn't solve the flooding problem, but it is much worse when the creek is flowing back up the storm drain and out into the streets.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 15, 2014 at 11:54 am

The SF Chronicle - 12/15/14 lead article is about how the Carmel river was rerouted to go around a dam that is filled with silt, is old, is in a earthquake zone and could fall down causing great damage downstream.

It duplicates the problem we have with the Searsville Lake and dam which is the head of the San Francisquito Creek. The Searsville Lake and dam are at Jasper Ridge - an SU property location.

This is a problem that is preventing major flood control from top to bottom of that creek, also restoring the creek into a well managed system supporting the natural fish population.

The Carmel River Watershed Conservancy organization has worked out the engineering required to side-step and repair a similar problem that we have sitting in our upper back yard. Hopefully SU will take the hint here and use the information to correct their lake and dam issues so the creek can be restored to a workable system. Also it my help get the approval of the state agencies to proceed with the other creek enhancements for flood control.

Since there is a successful model in place that can be used as precedence to follow-through on the creek flood control issues.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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