uvas creek miller avenue silva's crossing flooding christmas hill park
Uvas Creek rushes underneath Miller Avenue at Silva’s Crossing. Photo: Tarmo Hannula
music in the park san jose

Fueled by two wetter-than-normal months, Gilroy’s rainfall total in the 2021 calendar year was more than double that in 2020.

But even with an atmospheric river soaking the region in the year’s final weeks, the city was only near its average.

According to the National Weather Service, Gilroy’s precipitation totaled nearly 18 inches in 2021 as of Dec. 27, well above last year’s total of 7.66. The total average annual rainfall in Gilroy, however, is just under 20 inches.

Herman Garcia of Gilroy-based Coastal Habitat Education and Environmental Restoration measures rainfall from his home near Gilroy High School. Since Oct. 1, he measured 15.05 inches, slightly above the typical average by this time of year.

“That is very good news,” Garcia said, adding that January is typically a wet month in Gilroy that should help boost the number.

The city’s wettest months in 2021 were October and November, which were the only two that exceeded the normal average. In mid-December, a storm brought in roughly four inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm flooded roads and fields throughout South County, including Miller Avenue at Silva’s Crossing in Christmas Hill Park, which was shut down for a few days as Gilroy Public Works crews cleared the creek.

The roadway was again closed on Dec. 27 for flooding, but reopened the next day.

However, it wasn’t nearly enough to make a dent in the county’s drought situation.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Santa Clara County is still considered to be in “Extreme Drought,” just one level below the driest category of “Exceptional.”

The Gilroy City Council unanimously declared a water supply shortage on Aug. 2, following earlier decisions by the state and other jurisdictions as California experienced another dry year.

Under the “Level 2 Water Supply Shortage” approved by the council, Gilroy residents who live in homes with odd-numbered addresses are limited to watering landscapes for no more than 15 minutes on Wednesday and Sunday, while those in even-numbered addresses are limited to Tuesday and Saturday.

Watering is also prohibited between 9am and 5pm, except by using a bucket or hose with a shutoff nozzle.

Among the other requirements, all plumbing leaks must be repaired within 48 hours.

Earlier in June, Valley Water’s board of directors declared a water shortage emergency and imposed mandatory water usage reductions of 15% compared to 2019 levels—equivalent to a 33% reduction from 2013 water usage levels. 

On July 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that urges Californians to reduce their water use by 15% compared to 2020 levels. The State Water Resources Control Board shortly after prohibited using potable water to wash down sidewalks, washing vehicles with a hose without a shut-off nozzle and other usages.

Rain is expected to return early next week.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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