We had some heavy winter rain in the end of December, here are a few photos.
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Compare this to the springtime water level
|By LAURA URSENY - Staff Writer
Chico ER 1/29/05
With weather watchers predicting a rain downpour over the next few days, authorities call it foolhardy for anyone to consider a New Year's Day dip.
Big Chico Creek as it runs through Sycamore Pool at One-Mile Recreation Area already breached its banks earlier this week, meaning water is running high and swift.
More rain this weekend will only add to creek levels, and no official eyes will be watching for the public's safety. The city's lifeguards left the pool after Labor Day.
While "polar bears" show up at One-Mile every Jan. 1 for an annual swim, this is not a city event, stressed Park Ranger Bob Donohue.
"It's nothing we endorse. We don't even know who the organizers are."
Donohue said the city is watching the creek's water level closely.
Offering a training example, Donohue said if the flow was measured at 12 mph, "If you got caught in a snag, to get out of the current, you'd have to bench press 540 pounds to get out of it."
The storm expected on New Year's Eve is predicted to be warm, which not only will drop plenty of water, but could melt snow at higher levels, adding to what's flowing down Big Chico Creek.
Chico Fire Department Capt. Dave Main said if the creek water drops to safe levels, there still are safety concerns at One-Mile.
"All the things that were on the banks of the creek are now in the creek — snags, debris, rocks, berry vines."
A 20-foot tree taken by the swollen creek has snagged at the One-Mile fish ladders.
"If the creek is strong enough to take a 20-foot tree, imagine what it will do with a person."
Main warned against diving headfirst into water that is murky, and suggests anyone who does make the swim wears shoes.
While the water temperature may be warm, the current is strong, he said. Even so, swimmers' bodies are in for a shock.
"Your breathing will be reduced, your muscles will spasm. Your heart rate will increase as the body tries to warm itself. You'll lose sensation in your extremities as blood pools into the body cavity to protect the vital organs," Main said.
Above all, avoid the dam, Main said. Water that pummels over the structure is sucked back toward it.
"It'll push you down and you get sucked back in toward the dam. You're shoved down with such a tremendous force, you can't get out. Then there's the problem of the debris that's gone over the dam. That's waiting on the other side."
During the extreme flooding of 1997, Chico police taped off the One-Mile pool to prevent its use and posted "Pool Closed" signs. Those who showed up came more to gawk at a flooded One-Mile. Swimmers waited for a day or two before attempting their traditional dip.