Documentary Evidence for Extreme Flood Events in the Russian River Watershed

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Project Description: This research project involved a comparison of newspaper accounts and instrumental precipitation records to gain a spatial and temporal perspective on the recurrence and landscape impact of extreme precipitation events (possibly caused by Atmospheric Rivers) in the Russian River Watershed (RRW) during the past one hundred years for which we have instrumental data. The longterm goal of this project is to move beyond the instrumental record into the historic past and identify possible episodes of intense precipitation caused by atmospheric rivers through their documented impact on the landscape.

Duration: Spring 2013 and will be ongoing

Type of Educational Activities: service-learning

Project Faculty: Michelle Goman

Partners: Center for Environmental Inquiry, SSU Library, Sonoma County Water Agency

Participating Courses: Global Climate Change: Past, Present and Future (GEOG 372) – 15 students (spring 2013)

Students analyzed instrumental precipitation data for four sites in the Russian River Watershed.  Two stations are located in Mendocino county (Ukiah and Potter Valley) and two in Sonoma county (Santa Rosa and Fort Ross). Students then searched on-line newspaper databases for information about extreme precipitation events that occurred within the Russian River watershed during the historic period. They searched for events such as flooding, landslides, drowning’s, communication breakdowns and so on.

Students worked in groups and received training in archival searching from the SSU library staff.

Data: (see data disclaimer) A database is in development. Ongoing project.

Reports: No reports are currently available as this is an ongoing project. 

Precipitation data obtained from:
CA Newspaper online free archive: