in the March 8, 1911, issue of the Salinas Daily Index described
storm conditions in the area graphically: "Disastrous effects of the
storm in the Salinas Valley is unprecedented." The following account
in the paper described the flood conditions within the general area:
Flood conditions in
the Spreckels area were representative of many sections of the county, as
described in the Salinas Daily Index.
of January 1914 did significant damage throughout Monterey County. The following
account appeared in the January 26 issue of the Salinas Daily Index:
Damage to bridges in the county was staggering. On January 27, the Salinas Daily Index described conditions as follows:
Damage to these bridges was estimated to exceed $300,000, and damage to properties throughout the county came to over $1 million.
|A Christmas storm in 1931 brought flood conditions to many portions of Monterey County. Precipitation was dramatic; on the Carmel River, the San Clemente Dam overflowed capacity. As noted in a December issue of the Monterey Peninsula Herald: " Fed by storm swollen streams, San Clemente Dam staged the most sensational rise in history last night, climbing 25 feet in 15 hours." The storm continued for 5 days, bringing damage to Carmel Valley, Big Sur, and the Monterey area.|
1938, the Salinas River again flooded. The headline in the Salinas Index-Journal
of February 12 stated: "No, not the Mississippi-just the Salinas River."
Conditions in the county were serious.
of 1940-1941 produced flood conditions within several areas of Monterey
County, as recorded in the March 4, 1941, issue of the Salinas Index-Journal.
storm hit the Monterey Peninsula in January 1943, bringing flood conditions
to coastal areas of Monterey County. The following description appeared
in the January 22 issue of the Monterey Peninsula Herald:
storm hit Monterey County in February 1945. However, due to the prevailing
dry conditions, no appreciable damage resulted from this downpour. The following
account appeared in the Salinas Californian on February 2:
in the Salinas Californian of January 16, 1952 was another of the
significant flood years within Monterey County.
area of the county was threatened with potential flood conditions in January
1956. However, conditions never reached a critical stage as described in
the Salinas Californian of January 26.
rains of early April 1958 brought flood conditions to numerous counties
in northern California. Monterey County was no exception, as outlined in
the Salinas Californian on April 3.
Californian carried the following account of flood conditions on February
The Salinas River did not leave its banks and the flooding described above was the result of localized drainage problems.
conditions along the length of the Salinas River caused extensive damage
during the storm of January 1966. Most of this damage was to agricultural
crops; over 32,000 acres were inundated, at an estimated loss of $6,572,000.
The cities in the county experienced some flooding and damage, although
the rural areas and agricultural production were the most affected. As noted
in the Salinas Californian on December 7:
1969 was perhaps the most severe flood year in Monterey County. There were
two distinct floods-one at the end of January and one at the end of February.
Each of these resulted in Monterey County being declared a disaster area.
In each flood, both the Salinas and Carmel Rivers went on a rampage. Damage
from the storms was extremely costly. As noted in the Monterey Peninsula
Herald of January 27: "County officials said they were certain
that the $6.5 million flood damage caused along the Salinas River in 1966,
of which 4 million was in Monterey County alone, would be exceeded."
the county were described as follows in the Salinas Californian
on January 27:
The Salinas River cut a multi-million dollar swath of damage through the Salinas Valley from Bradley to the Pacific Ocean today. The Valley has been awash in what County Water Engineer Loran Bunte calls the 100-year flood since Saturday evening. A flood crest only slightly lower than that which passed Spreckels at 40,000 cu. ft./sec. early this morning, is rolling up river from King City this afternoon. The Monterey County Flood Control and Water Conservation District office and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers say flooding will continue through Wednesday.
One month later, the Salinas River again flooded. Once more, much damage occurred, as noted in the Salinas Californian on February 26.
conditions occurred again in the Salinas area and other portions of the
county in February 1973, as noted in the Salinas Californian on February
flood conditions again occurred in many areas of Monterey County, as noted
in the Salinas Californian on February 13:
|Heavy rains caused extensive flooding and erosion on March 3, 1983, in the Salinas River Valley. Farmland and roadways were damaged, and Monterey County was declared a disaster area. The unofficial peak discharge at Spreckels gage was 63,172 cuffs, close to a 50-year flood. (The USGS has not verified the Spreckels gage discharge.) The San Antonio and Nacimiento Dams and associated reservoirs aided in attenuating the flows that occurred in the valley.|
County experienced prolonged and sustained precipitation in January 1995
resulting in extensive flooding throughout the region. Most river valleys
were affected, with major damage experienced in the Pajaro Valley and Carmel
Valley. On January 9 and 10, 1995, Monterey County was subjected to an intense
winter storm during which up to 6 inches of rainfall was received in some
areas. The Monterey County Water Resources Agency rated the storm as a 10-
to 20-year event.
Five localized areas within the Carmel Valley area were significantly affected by downstream flooding of the Carmel River: Camp Stephani, the Robles Del Rio area of Carmel Valley village, the area adjacent to the Schulte Road Bridge, the Rio Road area adjacent to Highway 1, and Mission Fields.
The January 1995 flood damaged 125 residences resulting in an estimated damage cost of approximately $2.5 million. In addition, an estimated $927,000 in damage to public facilities and utilities also occurred. Various agencies and organizations were involved in the response to the flood. The Monterey County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated by the Office of Emergency Services (OES), three "Incident Command Posts" were established in the flooded areas, and the Emergency Broadcast System was utilized.
The County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency, the Governor declared a state of emergency in Monterey County and other affected counties, and President Clinton declared the State of California a "Major Disaster Area," designated as "FEMA 1044-DR-CA."
Shortly after the January 1995 flood, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency made a number of recommendations for corrective actions to the County Board of Supervisors. These recommendations included the installation of better communications equipment and procedures, and encouraging floodplain resident responsibility through the establishment of "Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Plans." The Board Report also outlined recommendations for improving the condition of the "Carmel Valley Coordinated Emergency Response Plan," which had been in draft form since 1990 and designating Mission Fields and the Rio Road area as "Communities at Risk" in the Carmel River Flood Plan in the County's Multi-Hazard Emergency Plan.
10-13, 1995, Monterey County experienced a second significant winter storm
which resulted in sustained precipitation falling on already-saturated watersheds.
Devastating flooding occurred throughout the County, particularly along
the Carmel, Arroyo Seco, Salinas, and Pajaro Rivers. Damage was extensive
throughout the County with virtually every community affected. Pajaro, Castroville,
Mission Fields, Carmel Valley, Cachagua, Carmel Highlands, Spreckels, and
Big Sur sustained devastating damage. Over 1,500 residences were damaged,
including 60 homes which were declared uninhabitable. In addition, an estimated
100 businesses were affected, and the tourism industry sustained substantial
losses for a period of several months.
In all, over 11,000 people were directly affected, and major portions of the County's agricultural lands subjected to widespread destruction. California was again declared a Federal Disaster Area designated as FEMA 1046-DR-CA.
In particular, flooding of the Salinas, Carmel, and Pajaro Rivers forced mass evacuations in San Ardo, King City, Greenfield, Soledad, Gonzales, Chualar, Spreckels, the River Road area, parts of Salinas, Castroville, Moss Landing, Pajaro, and the Carmel Valley.
Damage to Private Property:
The March floods resulted in County-wide devastation to private property resulting in over 11,000 evacuations and damage to 1,500 homes and 110 businesses. Following is a summary of the damage which occurred in each community:
Damage to Public Facilities:
At the height of the
flood on March 13, 63 roads and 15 bridges were closed, including the Highway
1 bridge over the Carmel River. The closure of the Highway 1 bridge over
the Carmel River resulted in the complete elimination of access to portions
of Carmel Valley, Carmel Highlands, and Big Sur for a period of several
days, requiring evacuations to take place with helicopters. Other significant
effects to public facilities and services included the following:
1998, a series of "El Niño" winter storms hit various parts
of California, and particularly Monterey County. Close timing of the rainfall
events contributed to intense flooding, in that heavy rain would continually
hit ground that was still saturated from the previous rain. An estimated
50 roads and highways were closed or restricted, in most cases due to washouts,
landslides, and mudslides. Several communities were evacuated, particularly
the entire town of Pajaro near Watsonville, all residents of the Sherwood
Lake Mobile Home Park near Carr Lake in Salinas, and portions of Bolsa Knolls
and Toro Estates. Drinking water quality warnings remained in effect for
certain areas for some time afterward. By the end of the first week of February,
at least 6,600 homes and businesses had been without power for varying periods
of time. The State Governor declared Monterey County, amongst others, a
The most significant type of damage involved land and mudslides. In particular, the Las Lomas area experienced severe damage of eight residential parcels which Monterey County acquired, through the Federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, removing all property improvements. Each parcel was subsequently rezoned to "open space" in perpetuity.
County-wide, losses resulting from the February 1998 events are estimated at over $38 million, with specifically agriculture-related losses totaling over $7 million and involving approximately 29,000 damaged acres.