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Heavy rainfall causes flooding around Turlock
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Some areas of Turlock, like this neighborhood near Dennis Earl Elementary, saw flooding on Friday due to the large amount of rain that fell in a short period of time. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

The first big storm of the season hit Turlock Friday morning, resulting in flooded streets and at least one downed tree.

Turlock received 1.57 inches of rain on Friday, with almost two-thirds of an inch falling in just two hours — during the height of the local morning rush hour between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Many drivers trying to make their way into work or dropping off kids at school ran into areas of flooding around town, including parts of Lander Avenue and N. Olive Avenue.

According to City of Turlock staff,  the storm drain system was fully functional but the intensity of the storm caused the drain lines to be inundated and in some cases, started to back up.  In some areas of town water came up over curbs, sidewalks and in a few cases also entered some parked vehicles houses.

The City of Turlock Municipal Services Department processed over 300 phone calls during the storm — including a call about a tree that fell over and smashed the back of a car near Marshall Street and Bell Street —and  field crews from several departments were all out on the streets clearing storm grates and addressing specific areas where there was flooding. 

City crews will continue to work through the weekend to clear up any remaining trouble spots before the next storm which is scheduled to reach the Turlock area on Sunday.  The next rain event is forecast to be even more intense than Friday's storm with possible thunderstorms and wind gusts up to 21 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

To minimize the impact of the storm, the City is encouraging residents to be prepared for local flooding and clear leaves from blocked storm grates and park cars in the driveway.

Sandbags are available for collection at the Turlock Water Quality Control Facility located at 901 South Walnut Road. They are free of charge.

"Our city staff have been working around the clock to relieve any flooding in our streets," said Mayor Gary Soiseth. "Turlock's drainage system is quite advanced when compared to surrounding cities, but we appreciate everyone's patience as it takes some time to drain. We have exceptional staff dedicated to clearing the roadways and I can't thank them enough for their hard work."

Caltrans urges caution when driving in rainy conditions. Wet-weather driving demands gentle use of all the main controls — steering, clutch, brake and accelerator — and a larger allowance for errors and emergencies.

Where water has flooded onto the road, Caltrans recommends driving very slowly and cautiously. Never drive through moving water if you can't see the ground through it: you and your car could be swept off the road.

When driving through a puddle of uncertain depth, go slow. If it's deeper than the bottom of your doors, turn around and find another route. Deep water can cause serious damage to a modern car's electrical system. If possible,  Caltrans recommends staying off the road during heavy thunderstorms. Large flashes of lightning can temporarily blind and disorient drivers, and the accompanying high winds and heavy rain can create deadly driving conditions.