The San Francisquito Creek along the Peninsula reached a milestone this week, when water levels reached the 6th largest flow since 1998, and fire crews sent up drones to monitor the rising levels of water.
The creek, which borders San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties as well as the cities of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, was flowing at 4820 cubic feet per second on Tuesday, as recorded by the US Geological Survey Gage located near Junipero Serra Blvd.
Over the last several weeks, Menlo Park Fire Protection District Captains Tony Eggimann and Chris Dennebaum sent up four of the district's drones to monitor the situation as the creek often overflows.
The drones allowed emergency crews a birds-eye look of congested traffic intersections, live fire safety demonstrations and a joint emergency preparedness exercise with Facebook. The same fire crews and their drones were out looking for the missing kakayer, who disappeared on Jan. 24 near the Dumbarton Bridge.
Crews will also be out again on Thursday, watching the creek and other waterways as the next storm passes through the Bay Area.
“We will be using the UAS/Drone at every opportunity to give us better situational awareness and so we can better document these events in real time showing the cause and effect, at various risk areas,” Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.
He said the aerial video and photographs taken by the drones are "becoming a very powerful and helpful tool in how we convey and show the public what we are doing or what we are concerned about from an aerial perspective. It’s a game changer for us.”
The USGS Gage has recorded creek data since 1930. Here is a list of when the San Francisquito Creek has reached other all-time highs.
1. February 3, 1998 7200 CFS (cubic feet per second)
2. December 22, 1955 5560 CFS
3. December 23, 2012 5400 CFS
4. January 4, 1982 5220 CFS
5. January 1, 2005 4840 CFS
6. February 7, 2017 4820 CFS