New Year’s 2006 Flood Report

While the storm racked up $200 million in damages, ag and levee system endured. Len Richardson


Published on: Jan 9, 2006

The storms that ripped through Northern California ushered in $200 million in damages with 23 counties being declared disaster zones. While the so called New Year’s Flood of 2006 claimed eight lives, agriculture escaped mostly unscathed because flooded vineyards in the storm’s main path had been harvested and vines were dormant.

While storm officials reported about 40 levee events and some evacuations, officials said they thought the Delta system held up pretty well overall. The Department of Water Resources captured a video of the Twitchell Island Flood Fight showing overtopping of the Twitchell Island levee system during a period of high water and very strong southwesterly winds in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta.

That overtopping forced floodfighters to retreat from the area until conditions calmed. Approximately 100 residents of the island were evacuated. Despite the severe battering, DWR Emergency Flood Operations personnel (aided by California Conservation Corps crews) were able to shore up problem areas and saved the island from flooding.

Here is how California crops looked on January 1 in a report released January 3, 2006:

Fruit/nut Report

Dormant season activities in grape vineyards and fruit orchards continued as weather conditions allowed. Activities included pruning, brush shredding, cane tying, cultivation, weed control treatments, fertilizer and soil amendment applications, and cover crop planting. Some river-bottom orchards in Yuba and Sutter counties had water flowing through them due to the heavy rainfall during the week. Soil fumigation was underway in a number of locations to prepare for planting of new orchards and vineyards. Several growers were already planting new vines and trees in the San Joaquin Valley. Navel oranges were harvested in most areas, along with lemons, several varieties of tangerines, and pummelos. Fruit maturity and color were good.

Dormant season fieldwork continued in nut orchards as weather conditions allowed. Soil fumigation continued in preparation for planting of new orchards. Some river-bottom walnut orchards were flooding due to the heavy rainfall received during the week.

Vegetable Report

Tomato beds were being prepared for next season's crop. Carrot harvest continued in Kern County. Fresh market broccoli, lettuce, and cauliflower harvest continued in fields not too wet to restrict accessibility. Radicchio harvest continued. Harvest of cool season Asian vegetables such as bok choy, gai choy, you choy Chinese broccoli, Thai broccoli, and sugar pea leaf continued. Onion and garlic plants were growing well.

Livestock Report

Rain and mild temperatures were positive for winter pastures. Heavy rains in northern California caused flooding and with it some problems with livestock in low-lying areas. Rain was very beneficial to foothill pastures in the south central part of the State that had been below normal in rainfall. Stocker cattle continued to be turned out on winter pastures in central and northern California. Cattle were receiving supplemental feed in areas where grass was short. Feeder cattle were being pastured in old sudan grass and new rye grass fields in the Imperial Valley. Ewes with lambs were grazing in alfalfa fields or on retired farmland in the central area. Feeder lambs in the Imperial Valley were grazing mainly in old alfalfa fields. Rain caused muddy conditions at dairies and some flooding.

Field Crops Report

Wet weather conditions continued, and many areas reported flooded fields. For those fields that were not flooded, the rains were highly favorable for various small grain crops, but hindered planting activities. Some winter wheat was headed. Shredding and discing of harvested cotton fields to comply with pink bollworm plow-down requirements was nearly complete. Planting of new sugar beet fields continued. Young sugar beet plants in newly emerged fields were protected from hungry birds by Mylar "scarecrows." Fields of alfalfa grown for both hay and seed were generally dormant; herbicides treatments were noted in a few locations.