Monterey Peninsula could be cut off by Salinas River flooding

The rising Salinas River is putting nearby communities at risk from flooding and could cut off the Monterey Peninsula from the mainland.

Residents said the situation is putting them on edge. 

"I’ve never seen this is my life so, it’s pretty crazy," said Yoav Camacho of Salinas. "It’s a little scary because you don’t’ know how quickly things are going to get back to normal."

People in low-lying areas near the river were ordered to evacuate and the Monterey County sheriff warned that the peninsula could be turned into an "island," Monterey County Weekly reported.

"We want people to be safe and we want people to heed the evacuation orders and the evacuation warning," said Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto. "During seasons like this the river can become very dangerous and I think people forget that, because we’ve been in drought and the river becomes a sandbar."

Nieto said the river rises slowly but also decreases slowly. 

"So if you’re in an area that becomes cut off because you haven’t left – you’re going to have to shelter in place for a few days," she said. 

The flooding could cut off the world-known coastal communities of Monterey, Carmel by the Sea and Pacific Grove if the excess water spills across state Highway 1 and Highway 68.

The river is expected to reach flood stage on Thursday and rise five feet higher before subsiding.

The evacuation order affects an area from Spreckels in the south to the Monterey Bay in the north. The Gonzalez River Bridge has been shut because of floodwaters. 

"This is such a dynamic situation, with a lot of unknowns," said Shaunna Murray with the Monterey County Water Resources Board. "We have 100 miles of river and we don’t know every drop of water that’s going to reach the river…until we’re able to process the data after the fact, it’s hard to know exactly when and how much water is coming though so the threat is still very much there."

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There was widespread flooding in Monterey County on Jan. 12, 2023. The Salinas River was rising and possibly going to exacerbate the problem, officials said. Photo: AIO Filmz

From: KTVU FOX 2

A list of road closures in Monterey County is updated by officials here.

The series of storms have caused dangerous flooding across the state and caused at least 20 deaths.