River’s Mouth is Closed and the Jenner Visitor Center is Flooding

Thursday December 19, 2015 Jenner CA.

It rained hard this morning

Apparently it rained good last night. I had two and a half inches of rain in the bucket this morning but it had stopped by the time I got up, so off I went to Jenner as all the rain they had said might happen during the day, didn’t seem like it was going to do it.

Flood stage

I could see the parking lot was starting to flood as I arrived at Jenner this morning. It had rained enough to start some water flowing down the river.center


John to the rescue

John, Ray’s brother was there as he wanted to check out the big surf down by the mouth. And some people were trying to get some chairs out of the visitor center but their truck’s battery was dead. The guys tried to push start it, but no go, so John got his truck over there and jumped the battery for them and they were good to go. trucks


John put his boat in the water and we headed down towards the river’s closed mouth paddling along the north shoreline of the river, shooting the bull and taking our time. We could hear the big waves crashing down there as we went.

At the closed mouth

There were to be big swells and big waves today, so we paddled right up to the closed mouth area here and watched the big waves crash one right after the other. They make a lot of crashing noises as they do this. Note the sand is about two feet above the river’s water level which means the water will rise two more feet at the visitor center before the water will go over the sand bar and stop rising and maybe wash out.waves


Serious problem with the process

There is a serious problem they have with the mouth taking out process during this time of year. When the river starts to flow from the winter rains with the mouth closed, the sand bar height determines how high the river will get from the rain water coming down the river, before the bar gets washed out into the ocean and the river water level drops. Whatever that sand bar level is compared to the river is how high the water will rise and flood Jenner and  could close the highway. Last year they had a similar situation, but the sand washed out at ten feet which was just below the level the center floor floods and it washed out. The sand bar could just as easily be ten or more feet higher than this, just depending how it gets stacked up. As far as I can see this is a serious flaw in how they control the mouth, or maybe don’t control it? :O)

Right now, the surf is too high and it’s unsafe for them to take it out and that’s the way it usually is in these situations this time of year.

Shooting the bull

Anyway, John and I sat,……….. well I sat and John stood in the water while we watched the waves crash and we shot the bull for a couple of hours or so here at the closed mouth looking out into the Pacific ocean. John’s making an important point here.john2


River’s rising

There a little marker stick John put in the water behind him above. It showed the water was rising about two inches an hour from the recent rain run off.

It was going to low tide so the ocean was down and not much ocean water was coming over the sand.

This was the best the waves could do while we were there. Note all the foam that comes into the river from the ocean. The waves were supposed to get bigger later in the day.waves2


Headed over to the flooded Penny Island

John and I left and headed to the flooded Penny Island where we were shooting the bull when John, the guy who picks up a lot of trash down here and lives down by the mouth paddled up in his boat. I listened while the two Johns talked about old time surfing back in the sixties and seventies. John in the red did a lot of surfing back in those days with the surfers. We were pretty kicked back as you can see from looking at John in the yellow kayak.bullshoot


I though it might be a good idea to go over to the visitor center to make sure my car was ok in the parking lot so we headed on over there passing this great blue heron taking it easy there.heron


Back at the center

Here’s the water side view of the center. If no one removes any of the sand bar, it’s going to get up to about the top rail on the deck, likely sometime tonight, about two more feet.centerflood


I checked the parking lot again and it had come up a few inches while we were gone, but it didn’t look like it was going to get my car any time soon.parkingflood


Ranger lady shows up

A state ranger lady pulled in to have a look and I informed her it was going up another two feet and she left.

John and I head back to the mouth area

John went in for the day and the other John who lives down there and I headed back down the river to check out the mouth area some more. We were traveling down the north shoreline and going around this corner when the wind came up to about twenty five miles an hour or so. I kept paddling and was making headway when I remembered John has a pace maker and maybe I should back off and back up and wait for the wind to die some near the shore, so I turned back and John was already by the shore out of the wind.

We agreed to give the wind a chance to die down while waiting here.windrain


After about a half hour, the wind did die down and whatever that was, blew out and things got nice so we continued on to the end of the river were we were sitting. Well, I was sitting, John was picking up trash in the water.

Seals have a big fish

I noticed this seagull acting like it was waiting for big fish scraps just to our right. I didn’t see any seals at first but then, sure enough, something was going on. There were about six harbor seals under that seagull eating a big fish. I only saw the big fish once for a brief moment when it was on the surface.sealgull


I left John picking up trash and paddled over to Haystack rock which was right in front of us and sat and watched. These harbor seals were resting just in front of me.seals


Eventually John showed up again and we headed over to the mouth area where these seals just came out of the river and were walking over the sand to the ocean.sealwalk


John’s garage floor is going to get flooded

We watched the waves breaking for a bit and John confirmed the sand was high enough that the water was likely to get into his garage and did some cussing at the powers that be that are supposed to keep this from happening at least according to him. :O)

We headed on back and I left John off at his house and paddled on in for the day.

Visitor center floor is starting to flood

The visitor center was just starting to get some water at floor level. This is the front deck which is about the same level as the floor inside.floor


I talked with a guy that had just looked in on the floor and he said the water was just starting to flood the floor in the lowest corner, so figure they will likely get about eighteen or so more inches of water in the center. 

As I was about to leave around five PM tonight the water was at this level and should rise another eighteen inches or so, right to the edge of highway 116 in Jenner. The gas station should be ok as it’s just a bit higher.lot


I headed on home for the day and that was pretty much it for another fine day on the estuary.

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7 Responses to River’s Mouth is Closed and the Jenner Visitor Center is Flooding

  1. stan says:

    Enjoy your posts, especially the photos. Next best thing to being there. Stan, Cloverdale

  2. Marty says:

    I love your posts, Bob.

  3. Rick Jeffery says:

    Another Excellent report, Bob! I can’t imagine why the park service doesn’t yet have a plan in place for getting and keeping the river mouth open when necessary?!?!? Reading your posts, and seeing you’re pictures are always such a GREAT way to start my day – Thank You, Sir :) Rick

  4. Ken Solbakken says:

    I’m not sure removing the abandoned jetty would alleviate so many frequent river mouth closers, but it might be a good idea to find out. The cost and risks of opening the mouth so many times over the years would have long been recovered. I don’t blame John for getting excited about his garage flooding. Another great post, when it finally opens I hope you’re watching from the lookout and not paddling at the mouth.

  5. Bob Noble says:

    They started to work on the deck, but never finished. There’s a bunch of new wood to work on it stored on the deck they might lose too. Those walking seals were the ones that just consumed the big fish.

  6. Patti Godwin says:

    Didn’t they work on the deck too? It’s getting baptized!
    Love seeing the seals “walking” to the ocean.

  7. dangurney51 says:

    That is really high. I think I’ll go out there tomorrow to see it. Good reporting, Bob.

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