Atmospheric River closes Interstate 5

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Heavy rain on Thursday caused roads to flood and traffic to come to a standstill throughout most of Colusa County. 

Caltrans closed the part of Interstate 5 around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday between Maxwell Road and Highway 20 after an “atmospheric river” rolled though the area.

Caltrans officials diverted traffic off the highway at Maxwell Road and into the city of Colusa for a short time. Traffic was eventually let through on the northbound side, but only one vehicle was allowed to cross at a time. Most travelers on the southbound side stood in traffic for hours, while many others took their chances on rural roads, only to get stranded in high water or mud, or forced back by road closure signs at almost every turn. 

Southbound travelers, including a number of semi-trucks drivers, tried to divert off Interstate 5 at Delevan Road, only to be stopped by the closure of County Road 99 to the south and Four Mile Road, located three miles east of I-5 and one mile east of the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District canal. 

“Google said it was open,” a motorist told the Delevan resident who helped 14 semi-trucks and more than 40 vehicles get turned around in several inches of water. 

Others drove west on Delevan Road trying to find passage on Sutton or McDermott road. Some motorists turned back at road closure signs; others pressed on. 

Around 3:45 PM, on Thursday, Caltrans reopened one lane of southbound Interstate 5 to slow traffic as the water began to recede, but traffic was backed for more than eight miles into Glenn County. By 4:15 PM, both lanes were open. 

Caltrans said about five inches of rain fell in the area. ■