Major flooding event 14th February 2019

Today Idyllwild and neighbouring communities in the San Jacinto mountains experienced a once-in-a-generation rainfall and flooding event. Many minor roads remain flooded, severely damaged, and/or impassable. There is currently no road access to Idyllwild. Unless under an evacuation order, please do not attempt to move around or visit the region. Highway 74 is closed at Lake Hemet and Valle Vista (both with an estimated reopening on 16th February).

Highway 243 from Pine Cove to Banning is also closed. This CHP link has a dramatic photo of Highway 243 completely washed out just north of Lake Fulmor. CalTrans has already posted an estimated reopening of 23rd February.

In about 24 hours we had an astonishing 7.77″ of rain in Idyllwild. By 0700 this morning, we had had 3.66″ of rain at home in Idyllwild (5550′) since yesterday. It finally stopped raining at about 1745 by which time we’d had an additional 4.11″.

With air temperatures above 45°F for much of the day, and so much mild rain, melting of existing snow was prodigious. Huge snow loss – basically all of the 6″ we had in town – massively increased the flood water volumes.

Long Valley (8600′) received a remarkable 9.1″ of rain in the same period. It then started snowing after about 1415 on top of the rain-saturated pre-existing snow. So far there has been only about an inch of fresh snowfall. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway has been closed all day, and will not reopen until Saturday 16th February.

I will start assessment of trail conditions tomorrow. There may be washouts, trees down, and even landslides, in addition to horrible slushy snow conditions, that may make hiking anywhere in the region challenging for the foreseeable future.

My video below shows where upper Fern Valley Road – access for Humber Park – is impassable as Chinquapin Creek has flooded the road (with floodwater 2-3 feet deep).

Strawberry Creek where it flows under Village Center Drive near Idyllwild Post Office at about 0900.

I took this video of Strawberry Creek – between River Drive and Tahquitz Drive – at about 0800 this morning. Nowadays it is rarely more than a gentle trickle at best. Not today.

Tahquitz Drive just down from the Episcopal Church turned into a river, a foot deep in places, with the snow berms functioning as river banks.

4 thoughts on “Major flooding event 14th February 2019

  1. Thanks for all the info. My parents live in Idyllwild(lower pine Crest). we really appreciate the videos and descriptions. Continue to do great work and safe travels.

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