The Nacimiento River is normally a placid little creek
With most of the rain from the recent storms falling, as it so often does, on the South Coast ridges, the Nacimiento River is on the rise this morning. As of 8:00 AM it was at 12,000 cubic feet per second, and quickly climbing. By contrast, the impressive looking flows in the Big Sur and Carmel Rivers this morning amount to only 572 and 547cfs, respectively.
The Nacimiento is no stranger to large flows. When the remnants of Typhoon Melor dropped more than 20 inches of rain on the South Coast in 24 hours, in October 2009, the Nacimiento jumped all the way up to 18,000cfs. And even that amount is dwarfed by the record flow of 57,600cfs (a small coastal stream suddenly carrying a flow equivalent to that of the Colorado River during the spring melt), set on January 4, 1993.
But the really impressive thing about the Nacimiento is the speed at which these monster flows develop. As recently as Monday, the Nacimiento was flowing at less than 40cfs. A stream you could have hopped across a few days ago, without even getting your feet wet, is this morning rolling boulders the size of cars.
While other creeks in the Santa Lucia are much less prone to flows of this scale, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t take a 12,000cfs flow to make a steeply dropping coastal stream suicidal to attempt to cross on foot. Even a few hundred cubic feet per second are often enough to do that job. Which is why nearly every rainy season, some group of campers spends a day or two more than they’d planned in the Ventana, stuck behind an uncrossable stream.
Click here to view the current level of the Nacimiento River