Some record rainfalls helped cause the Upper Sacramento River to rise Monday after the level of Lake Siskiyou rose four feet above the spillway, allowing about 5,000 cubic feet of water per second to spill over at Box Canyon Dam. Around the county, there were brief floods, evacuations, sandbag brigades at work, and roads clogged with debris.
Dunsmuir residents living along Butterfly Avenue were awakened early Monday morning by Sheriff’s deputies knocking on their doors.
At 5 a.m. the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation order for Butterfly Avenue residents and an advisory evacuation order for residents along a section of South First Street.
The Dunsmuir Public Works Department and the Dunsmuir Fire Incident Command had requested the action based on concerns about active high water in the Upper Sacramento River.
An evacuation shelter was established at the Dunsmuir Community Center, but mayor Dave Keisler said only one family had come to the shelter by 9 a.m.
Keisler said he knocked on doors as well to warn people. He said although several other individuals and households had evacuated to the homes of friends and family members, a number of people were apparently refusing to evacuate until “the water is in their yard.”
Dunsmuir reported receiving 11.64 inches of rain from Feb. 3 to Feb. 9, including 5.61 inches on Saturday.
Gauges in Mount Shasta showed more than 9.5 inches of precipitation.
Randy Akana, Siskiyou County Director of General Services, said rising river levels were the result of the high water level in Lake Siskiyou and the volume of water coursing over the spillway.
Akana explained that the Siskiyou Power Authority, which controls the Box Canyon Dam at Lake Siskiyou, controls the dam’s penstock (a sluice or gate for regulating a flow of water, according to merriam-webster.com) but has no control over the flow once the lake level is above the spillway.
“The penstocks allow flows of up to 450 cubic feet of water per second. At 10 a.m. this morning, the lake level was four feet above the lip of the spillway and we were spilling about 5,000 cubic feet of water per second,” Akana said.
He reported that the last time the water was that high was in 2006.
The lake’s water elevation peaked at about 10 a.m., according to Akana, and began to stabilize, coming down slowly.
The Sheriff’s Office lifted both the advisory and the mandatory evacuations at about noon on Monday.
In Weed, parts of the downtown area flooded with water from Boles Creek Sunday night after several drainage pipes became clogged, according to scanner traffic.
Elsewhere in the county, the Gazelle Fire Protection District and CAL FIRE were busy in Gazelle, according to public information officer Suzi Brady. Two hand crews and one engine assisted in constructing approximately 1,000 sandbags for residents there.
On Highway 96, Caltrans worked overnight Friday and into Saturday on two areas that, due to last summer’s fires, became inundated with debris in culverts, forcing water onto the roadway and doing some damage to the road, according to spokesperson Trisha Coder.