The deluge of October 24, 2021

The atmospheric river we were holding our breath for did not disappoint. It started to rain shortly before midnight on Saturday (October 23, 2021) and continued nonstop past midnight on Sunday and into Monday morning. I was glued to the weather all day on Sunday, and I never noticed a break in the action.

According to the Facebook page of the National Weather Service's Sacramento office, downtown Sacramento received 5.44" in the 24-hour period from 1 a.m. Sunday, October 24 to 1 a.m. Monday, October 25. That is an astonishing 69.1% of the total rainfall for the entire 2020/2021 water year (October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021). All in one day. That's pretty mind-boggling!

Graphic from the Facebook page of the US National Weather Service, Sacramento Office

This was a new all-time record for the most rain ever received in a 24-hour period in downtown Sacramento, breaking the old record that had stood since 1880 (!):

Facebook post by NWS Sacramento

If you think 5.44" is impressive, there were areas in Northern California that received even more rain—some twice that! According to the Sacramento Bee, the highest rainfall in the Sacramento area was recorded at Blue Canyon in Placer County (10.40"). Mount Tamalpais just to the northwest of San Francisco received 11" (ABC News) for the 24-hour period on Sunday, and a staggering 16.55" for the last 48 hours (SFGATE). 

San Francisco itself got 4.02" on Sunday, the fourth wettest day ever since record-keeping began during the Gold Rush (SFGATE).

For Davis, the rainfall total for the 24-hour period from 1 a.m. Sunday, October 24 to 1 a.m. Monday, October 25 reported by the National Weather Service was “only” 3.3". That shows how much the storm varied in intensity. Davis is only 15 miles from downtown Sacramento, yet our rainfall was 40% less.

As a result, the total precipitation from this atmospheric river (3.3") accounted for “only” 43.3% of the 2020/2021 water year total (7.57"). As shown in the graphic at the top of this post, it's 69.1% for downtown Sacramento.

Moving beyond the statistics (as much as I love them), here are a few short time-lapse videos from our garden.

Steady rain for a solid 24 hours:

Puddles and little lakes:

Bamboos in the front yard being buffeted by the wind:

Succulent mounds in the front yard:

One of the gutters from the house appears to be draining next to the Echinopsis 'Flying Saucer' I just planted: 

I'll have to do some digging and reroute the drain so it doesn't cause problems for my new plantings!

And finally a few still photos of little lakes emerging in various places. Our native soil is quite high in clay, so it takes a while for water to drain.

Today, the morning after, the water is all gone, and I see no signs of damage. I'm very relieved. The rain was steady but never rose to gully-washer levels, and the winds weren't as fierce as some had feared either. All things considered, a pretty well-behaved, if intense, rain event.

© Gerhard Bock, 2021. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. I'm glad you and your garden came out of this wet event unharmed. I wish there was a way for California, who suffer from terrible droughts, to capture all this rain... save it for the dry season. Most of it probably just washed off.

    1. So much rain fell on the weekend that a lot of it simply washed off. But it's still going somewhere, hopefully refilling lakes and aquifers.

  2. My rain gauge has says 8.3 for the 7 day total which includes the first rain we had earlier. This storm was in the 6" range. My gauge is not in a perfect location so I checked the county numbers a their corporate yard which is about a mile from me and they were also at 8 even. Water in my street was up to the top on the curb in areas due to the storm drains inability to keep up at the height of the storm. I'm probably done with in ground watering for the year and the containers may or may not need water again-but I'm set with every bucket and watering can full to the brim ! But the end of fire season is the biggest relief of all !

    1. You got more rain than we did. Great for the orchards and vineyards, too.

      Unless we get more rain in the next few weeks, I think I'll have to start hand-watering pots again, though...

  3. Over 5"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Must have been amazing. We got 0.4", which is wonderful--grateful for anything at this point.

    Glad your garden got soaked but not drowned. Your desert mound there looks great in the rain.

    Now, will my comment work? I've been getting error messages for days. 8^/

    1. I had problems with leaving comments, too--even here, on my own blog. It was/is a Blogger issue.

      I'm very grateful for the rain, but just as grateful that it's been dry since Monday morning. We need a break so the waiter can soak in.

  4. I'm glad you got a good soak without any obvious downsides! My roof-top weather system recorded the same amount of rain as HB, 0.4/inch. It came down hard at intervals but I never saw any pooling; however, my soil is heavy on sand. By this morning's accounting, I estimate I collected about 288 gallons of rainwater off the roof. I lot of that was collected in plastic trugs off what poured down the rain chain, which I moved to my two largest rain tanks, some yesterday during the downpour and the rest this morning. It was an exhausting process but worth it!

    1. 0.4" doesn't seem like much compared to what we just received, BUT taken on its own, it's nothing to sneer at either. And you're banking water in case you need to water again soon.


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