Flooding on the Salinas River was expected to crest Monday ahead of another round of rain, and ways of ingress and egress to the Monterey Peninsula were potentially all going to be cut off.
Monterey County officials were warning residents of the possibility that, in the next day or so, both Highway 1 and Highway 68 could end up closed due to flooding, turning the Monterey Peninsula into a virtual island for some extended period of time. As KSBW reports, the National Weather Service and NOAA are predicting that the Salinas River will crest this morning in Spreckels at 27.7 feet, with 28 feet being the level at which road travel will be impacted — and with more rain on the way.
"The projections now include a probable inundation of roadways between the Monterey Peninsula and the rest of the County to include the city of Salinas through Blanco Road and Highway 68," the county said in a press release.
Inundation of Highway 1, north of the marina in Monterey, would further cut off the area, and KSBW notes that the last time this happened was in 1995. To the south of Monterey, Highway 1 remains closed between Ragged Point in San Luis Obispo County and Deetjen’s Inn in Monterey County due to earlier rockslides.
For Monterey peninsula to become an island the four highlighted roads going over the Salinas river must be closed. As of now, one of them is closed (Davis Road) due to flooding but the Salinas river is still rising so we’ll have to wait and see. pic.twitter.com/zEMfjVRpES— Chris Hagel (@FrescoHagel) March 13, 2023
Monterey County officials on Sunday said the cresting Salinas River will probably inundate roadways between the Monterey Peninsula and the rest of Monterey County, including the city of Salinas and Highway 68. https://t.co/VqATuaXNof— KTVU (@KTVU) March 13, 2023
Evacuation orders and warnings remain in effect for multiple sections of northern Monterey County and the Salinas Valley, as well as Santa Cruz County and San Benito County.
On Saturday, a levee on the Pajaro River broke in Watsonville, sending floodwaters into the town, prompting evacuations and a rescue effort. The 360-foot breach and the ensuing flood impact around 1,700 residents, many of them farmworkers.
That levee has failed three times since its construction in 1949, most recently in 1995, when flooding killed two people and caused $95 million in damages, as the Mercury News reported.
You can monitor the Salinas River level here, courtesy of NOAA, and it looks like today's crest already occurred just after 10 a.m., at 26.8 feet. Another crest is forecast for Friday.
Monterey County residents have been told to keep traffic to a minimum and to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles.