Floods of January and February 1980 in California

Open-File Report 80-1005
By: , and 



During January and February 1980, storms caused substantial rises in streamflow throughout much of California. In mid-January flooding occurred in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and in the central coast area. In late January and mid-February, high floodflows in streams in coastal southern California caused much damage and several deaths. The Tijuana River in northern Baja California (Mexico) and southern San Diego County flooded many square miles of lowlands as its flow during two separate flooding episodes exceeded all records. Most reservoirs in San Diego County spilled, several for the first time since their completion. Lake Elsinore, in eastern Riverside County, caused much damage to lakeside property as it filled to an elevation not reached since 1916.

The February flooding in southern California was caused by a series of storms separated by short intervals. Some peaks of record were observed, and streamflow throughout the area remained high for a relatively long period. In many streams, the volumes of sustained flow for periods of 7 and 15 consecutive days were the greatest that have occurred during the period of record.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Floods of January and February 1980 in California
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 80-1005
DOI 10.3133/ofr801005
Year Published 1980
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description iv, 56 p.
Country United States
State California