Watch CBS News

South Bay officials keep close eye on Guadalupe River as storms approach

Flood Watch: South Bay officials warily eye Guadalupe River as storms arrive
Flood Watch: South Bay officials warily eye Guadalupe River as storms arrive 02:33

SAN JOSE -- In the South Bay, Saturday's rainfall stayed relatively light but heavier rain was predicted for Sunday and local officials are keeping a close watch on the river levels through San Jose.

Like a lot of people in her San Jose neighborhood, Jennifer S. keeps a close eye on the water level marks on the Alma Street bridge over the Guadalupe River.

"Usually when we have a large storm it gets up to about fourteen," she said.  "Seventeen feet is when we have to move out."

Jennifer had to evacuate her mother back in 1996. Since then it's only gotten close.  Still, she took pictures of how swollen the river got two weeks ago in the last big storm.

"If it doesn't rain for days and days, then we're OK," she said. "If it rains a long time then the river rises too fast!"

That's a concern of the county as well, said Santa Clara County Emergency Management PIO Kia Xiong. 

"The storm has already brought in a lot of rain from that February 4 storm," she said. "Soils are saturated."

KPIX First Alert Weather: Current conditions, alerts, maps for your area

The Guadalupe River gets runoff from the Santa Cruz mountain watershed and, when the land can't absorb the water, the river can rise quickly as it runs through San Jose.

"We're not expecting it to flood," Xiong said. "But we, again, want to make sure that the public is aware that this could potentially occur because of the saturation within the soils in our county."

The river bed is often a place where homeless people gather, so Xiong said the county has worked to evacuate them and has opened warming centers during the storm. With forcasts that Sunday's storm could last several days, officials weren't taking any chances. The entire Bay Area had been included in a flood watch.

Jeanne Vadeboncoeur, who lives close to the river, said that, over time, she's learned to be calm about the dire predictions.

"In all the years I've been watching, as of yet, it's never reached the 'projected,'" Vadeboncoeur said.  "You end up being more worried about what's coming.  When it's actually happening, even when it's at its worst, it doesn't seem that bad.  So, I think the worry is really more anticipation about what could happen.  

But it's the things that could happen that officials must plan for and they're hoping that, like Jennifer, people will take the message seriously.

"When it does rain real hard then we are concerned, yes," she said.

WEBLINK: Santa Clara County warming centers open to the public

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.