San Jose has gone from parched earth to soggy ground after this past weekend’s soaking, and more is on the way.
San Jose got nearly 1.5 inches of rainfall last weekend, with some flooding around the South Bay and more serious flooding in the San Francisco area. Some areas around San Jose’s creeks experienced flooding, primarily impacting the homeless residents nearby. Parts of Gilroy and Palo Alto were also impacted by the weekend storm. While rain was light on Monday, San Jose isn’t out of the water just yet, according to the National Weather Service.
Meteorologist Rick Canepa said San Jose is expected to see about 3/4 inches of rain on Wednesday and 1/4 inches on Thursday. That means for some San Jose neighborhoods, the threat of flooding is real.
“The storm door is wide open,” Canepa told San José Spotlight. “It’s firing on all cylinders. So we’re planning on issuing a flood watch (which means) we are expecting conditions to be conducive to flooding again.”
Matt Keller, spokesperson for Valley Water, said there are three flood hotspots in San Jose. The neighborhoods near the Penitencia Creek County Park on Mabury and King roads are on flood alert, as well as those living near Ross Creek on Cherry Drive and the Guadalupe River near Alma Avenue.
Areas that already experienced flooding over the weekend outside of San Jose like the Uvas Creek in Gilroy and near San Francisquito Creek in Palo Alto are also at risk of flooding again. Keller said a section of Highway 101 near the South 10th Street exit in Gilroy could flood later this week, along with some areas in Sunnyvale like the East Channel trail.
“The reality is we can see flooding anywhere, especially if the storm delivers like this last weekend,” Keller told San José Spotlight. “There may be less rainfall, there may be more—we just want people to be prepared.”
While Keller said San Jose didn’t experience much flooding over the weekend, homeless advocate Todd Langton, executive director of Agape Silicon Valley, said in some areas it looks like “creeks turned into lakes.” The people most impacted are the homeless residents who set up camp near local bodies of water. He worries the rain expected later this week will destroy more communities.
“It’s disastrous, their tents and shelters are overwhelmed with the flooding of the creeks. It’s impacting hundreds of unhoused people,” Langton told San José Spotlight. “I think officials don’t realize that there’s flooding in San Jose because it is not impacting homes, just homeless people.”
San Jose’s December rainfall exceeded the average rainfall of the month by an inch. January is also expected to exceed averages, according to the National Weather Service. Still, experts don’t anticipate the rain will lead to serious flooding in the valley because of the wind patterns. Instead, San Francisco and Santa Cruz will bear most of the brunt of the incoming storm, Canepa said.
Canepa also said San Jose likely won’t experience the same amount of rainfall it did in February 2017, which caused the Anderson Dam in South San Jose to overflow. The flood caused approximately $100 million in damages and displaced 14,000 residents in neighborhoods around Coyote Creek, including Naglee Park, Rock Springs and the South Bay Mobile Home Park.
Since the 2017 flood, Valley Water has started a new earthquake retrofit project at the dam to help release more water from the area during storms or emergencies. The reservoir is currently at about 3% of its approximately 90,000 acre-feet capacity. The agency is also working to reduce flood risks from rising sea levels in North San Jose’s Alviso neighborhood.
Keller said he doesn’t anticipate those living near Coyote Creek will experience similar flooding because of the new infrastructure. However, the flood hotspots in San Jose do not have any flood mitigation projects in the works. Residents living in areas with flood threats should prepare by signing up for alerts and getting sandbags before Wednesday, he said.
“If all of a sudden the water’s coming up to your house and you’re going out to try to find sandbags then, you’re already too late,” Keller said. “You need to have that prepared now.”
Residents can find free sandbags here. Residents can also report blockages in waterways and spills by calling Valley Water’s watershed hotline at 408-630-2378.
Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.