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(KTXL) — As the Sacramento region recovers from another violent winter storm with more on the way, it could bring to mind similar storms that have hit the area in recent decades.

Sacramento has had a centuries long battle against flooding and is at the greatest risk of flooding of any major city in the country, according to the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency. 

The city of Sacramento is most likely to experience riverine and storm water flooding due to the multitude of creeks and rivers that make their way through the Sacramento Valley.

Riverine flooding is when streams and rivers exceed their channels and spill out into the adjacent low-lying and dry land, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

Flood damage in Sacramento occurs in the floodplains of the Sacramento and American rivers. Areas throughout Sacramento may be subject to a higher frequency of flooding. Some areas in Sacramento may of a higher chance of flooding due to drainage during heavy rainstorms. 

Before the New Year’s Eve storm in 2022 caused major flooding in roadways, the Sacramento area had significant and devastating flooding over the past few decades. 

Historic floods

February 1986 

According to the City of Sacramento, a “vigorous low pressure system drifted out of the Pacific” and created a Pineapple Express that brought 10 inches of rain to Sacramento during an 11-day period. 

A Pineapple Express is a nickname for an atmospheric river, a giant vapor, and cloud that begins near Hawaii and makes its way to the West Coast and the three Pacific states: California, Oregon, and Washington. 

The floodwaters from 1986 were so overwhelming that they tore down bridges and punched through levees. The flood resulted in 13 deaths, 50,000 people evacuated, and caused over $400 million in property damage. 


In 1995, heavy rain caused widespread flooding in the Sacramento area in the Arcade, Morrison, Florin, Union, and Dry creeks, according to the city.


A couple of years later, a series of storms hit the Sacramento Valley and caused the Cosumnes River to crash through levees in 24 places, according to the city.

According to the City of West Sacramento, a flood on New Year’s Day in 1997 is one of the largest experience floods in Northern California since 1906.

The area received 30 inches of rain over a three-day period and levees along the Sacramento and Yolo bypasses and within Reclamation District 900 along the Sacramento River were heavily damaged, West Sacramento said.


According to West Sacramento, a flood in 1998 was one of the strongest El Nino events recorded and helped produced a series of powerful storms. 

California had about $550 million in damages due to the storm and the state reported 17 storm-related deaths for the winter and 41 counties were declared federal disaster areas. 


Similar to the 2022-23 New Year’s storm, another storm in 2005-06 is another that took place during New Year’s. The city said 2005-06 was nicknamed the “New Year’s Eve Storm” and caused flooding on New Year’s Eve in 2005 and through the first few days in 2006. 

The City of Sacramento said the 2005-06 New Year’s storm didn’t reach the magnitude of its previous storms, but it did cause residents “to be vigilant and question their individual storm readiness.” 


According to the West of Sacramento, a storm in Northern California at beginning of January 2008 brought a “treacherous mix of hurricane-force winds and torrential rains.” 


Sacramento County was impacted by a series of atmospheric rivers and storm systems, the City of Sacramento said. 

These series of storms started on Jan. 3, 2017, and lasted through Jan. 24, 2017. The city said several areas were impacted in Sacramento County including Rio Linda, Point Pleasant, Glanville tract, Wilton, and other southern portions of the County.