It was like a flash flood. In less than an hour, isolated thunderclouds dropped more than two inches of rain on Arcata Wednesday evening, causing ankle-high water to funnel through the streets, wash over sidewalks and seep into homes, businesses and classrooms.
Social media was also quickly flooded with photos and videos of washed-out roads, rooftop waterfalls and the obligatory post-storm urban kayaker.
Videos provided by Jessica Barger.
Meteorologist Scott Carroll with Eureka’s National Weather Service office said the spell was the strongest storm recorded in the Emerald Triangle that day.
“It was pretty heavy for a relatively short period of time, and was localized right around Arcata to Sunny Brae,” Carroll told the Outpost. “During the winter, we get stratiform rain, which is generally light. During this time of year, we get more convective rain — showers and thunderstorms. That’s what this was. If you look at it that way, it’s not unusual.”
While the flooding affected a number of private properties, City of Arcata Street and Utilities Secretary Lori Reed said no city property was damaged by the storm.
Video by Sean from Arcata.
“We haven’t had rainfall like that in years,” she said. “As soon as the rain stopped, everything receded.”
Richards’ Goat owner Merrick McKinlau told the Outpost that he was one of many Arcata business owners that day working quickly to bail water out of their storefronts.
“Fortunately, the deluge was short enough that we were able to stay on top of it,” McKinlau said. “We got a two-man system going with one person schlepping the water toward the door and another person getting it out.”
Humboldt State University, meanwhile, seemed to take the brunt of the damage. A video taken by one HSU student showed water pouring from the third-floor ceiling of the Science A building that evening.
In total, 16 campus buildings suffered some form of water damage.
The Outpost reached out the the university to get a cost estimate of the damages, but Humboldt State University spokesperson Grant Scott-Goforth said no estimates are available at this time.
“Facilities Management says the primary factor [for the flooding] was the amount of water in the short period of time,” Scott-Goforth said. “Drains quickly became overloaded and then plugged with the volume of water and debris.”