Updated Jan. 12, 2:05 p.m. —
Winter storms from a pair of “atmospheric rivers” brought gusts of high winds and over five inches of rain to the Sacramento area this week, resulting locally in several trees falling onto Citrus Heights roadways, an increase in vehicle collisions, and minor flooding on various streets.
Police Lt. Jason Russo said the city faced “pretty mild” storm conditions compared to some parts of the county that saw evacuations and several feet of flooding, but he confirmed at least three fallen trees temporarily blocked streets in Citrus Heights this week. One incident involved a tree reportedly landing on a vehicle on Old Auburn Road near Mariposa Avenue on Tuesday night, with another falling onto Grand Oaks Boulevard and another near Sylvan Oaks Library.
Police incident logs from Jan. 10 indicate a caller reported that a “tree came down and hit a vehicle” on Old Auburn Road, but Russo said it was unclear whether the vehicle had hit the tree or if it had fallen in front of the vehicle. No one was injured in the incident, but one direction of traffic was closed for about an hour while a tree crew cleared the roadway, the lieutenant said.
The tree collision was one of five collisions recorded in Tuesday’s incident logs, an increase Russo said police attribute to seasonal spikes in crashes due to wet conditions on the roadways.
“There were definitely more collisions this year than last year, due to the rainy season,” Lt. Russo told The Sentinel on Wednesday. Police typically document an average of around 700 collisions in Citrus Heights each year, or about two collisions per day in the city, according to the latest annual report police provided to the city council last year.
Regina Cave, with the city’s general services department, described storm-related damage in Citrus Heights as “minimal,” and said creeks had no issues with flooding on major arterials. She estimated the department had received “a couple dozen calls at best,” from late Saturday through Wednesday afternoon.
“We were fortunate because a lot of leaf fall had already taken place,” said Cave, noting that flooding often occurs when drains are clogged with leaf buildup. She said the city had also been proactive to prevent flooding with twice-per-month cleaning of roadways by a street sweeper during winter months.
In an interview on Wednesday afternoon, Cave said the city had also worked with a new contractor to get creeks cleaned up and maintained in anticipation of the storms, an effort she said helped to reduce flooding of creeks.
Sandbags may have also played a role in preventing flooding, with Cave reporting that about 100 cubic yards of free sand from the city’s two sandbag stations had been used. She said that amount of sand will fill around 10,000 sandbags — about the same amount the city dispersed during an anticipated “stormageddon” weather system in 2014 that ended up fizzling out.
Cave said both sand and bags are still available for residents to pick up at city hall and C-Bar-C park. She said the sandbag stations will continue to be replenished through the winter storm season, until around mid-April.
The city recommends stocking up on sandbags even when it’s not raining, storing them in a cold and covered area to keep the sun from deteriorating the bags. Cave said residents can also pick up empty sandbags from city hall to double-bag old sandbags that may be deteriorating.
Updated Jan. 12: As heavy rains can lead to an increased risk of trees uprooting, the city provided several warning signs for potential tree failure from soil saturation. Indications include air bubbles coming up from the soil, a pronounced lean not present in the past, soil mounding on one side of the trunk, and mushrooms at the base of the tree or on the trunk.
Cave said the information was provided by the city’s consulting arborist, but cautioned “neither the city nor the consultant make any claims that this is an all-inclusive list or guarantees these warnings.”
According to the National Weather Service, rain is expected again beginning Wednesday, Jan. 18.
Find out where to get free sandbags: “Citrus Heights offers free sandbags at two locations”