This year’s winter may not be deluging San Jose in atmospheric rivers, but officials are still preparing for another wet season.
San Jose just experienced its first heavy rainfall of the season, receiving between one-half inch to 1.5 inches of rain over the past three days, according to the National Weather Service. During this time, Valley Water did not experience any major flooding, but is gearing up for possible increases in rainfall.
The city and water district have been preparing for a wet winter, with crews keeping the creeks and waterways free of debris and reaching out to residents living in flood zones, Valley Water spokesperson Matt Keller said.
Valley Water hasn’t seen any major issues from this storm, Keller said, but he added the district has spent more than $1 billion on flood protections to help decrease the likelihood of flooding in certain areas.
“You might see some localized flooding on the streets, (when) some debris blocks your local sewer cover,” Keller told San José Spotlight. “Those will be minor issues that just need clearing and the city works hard to make sure those are cleared. That’s the biggest issue that we expect to see from these storms.”
He added that Valley Water had teams removing sediment build up, fallen debris and vegetation to keep waterways flowing during the rain on Wednesday. Because the recent rain didn’t generate much runoff, Keller said it has had less of an effect on Valley Water’s reservoir levels than what’s expected with future storms.
Rachel Kennedy, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the recent storm was due to a low pressure system that moved inland from the ocean.
“It looks like we might be starting to see a pattern shift to a bit rainier,” Kennedy told San José Spotlight. “We’re looking to be dry through the weekend, but the climate prediction center does have us in above average precipitation toward the end of the month.”
Last year’s atmospheric rivers led to flooding across the Bay Area. San Jose wasn’t hit the hardest, but the city experienced flooding along the Guadalupe River, and Mayor Matt Mahan announced a state of emergency and evacuation orders for homeless residents living near the creek.
So far this year, no one has been displaced from the rainfall, according to Todd Langton, executive director for Agape Silicon Valley and founder of Coalition for the Unhoused of Silicon Valley.
“Seems like right now is just the start of the big storms,” Langton told San José Spotlight. “I don’t know the predictions of how weather will be this year compared to last. All I know is it’s going to be bad.”
Langton said the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council and Agape Silicon Valley, along with a coalition of seven other advocacy groups, handed out hundreds of supplies to homeless communities last weekend. That included 200 tarps, 100 tents and hundreds of socks and underwear to keep unhoused residents as warm and dry as possible through the rain.
He said Agape Silicon Valley will be handing out another 200 tarps this weekend, trying to get ahead of future storms. As the winter continues, there may be displacement, and Langton stressed the need for organizations to collaborate in support of unhoused communities.
“The advocates, the governmental agencies and the nonprofits need to work much closer together… and be more proactive on the weather situations,” Langton told San José Spotlight.