San Diego’s Worst Floods

The Worst Floods in San Diego

The low places will always collect the consequences. In the early 1980s, there was a storm in San Diego that was so severe that it was named as the 100-year flood, drenching the whole county.
This flood reached such a high level that it might take a river 100 years to reach it.
There have been no such floods in San Diego that reached such a high level. San Diego is famous for its floods and Charles Hatfield who claimed that with the help of chemicals he can bring rain. San Diego is rich with the history of floods and here we have the list of the worst floods.

The Flash Flood 1821

In 1821 the residents of the hills in San Diego started to move downhill into the Old Town. Near the river, most of the people have the cultivated lands. Usually in September that was known as the dry season. Water would cascade down from the hills and fill the Mission Valley.
With the fast moving current, most of the products were lost like the oranges, ripe pumpkins and hundreds of vegetables and other crops. The current of the water was so strong that it took away many lives and destroyed the town.
However, with the passage of time, the current of water was changed and it was moved towards the False Bay. It felt like now the people will not have to suffer from the floods and other issues.

Cause of flood

However, before the day river changed its course none of the people thought that there would be a sudden storm and it will destroy everything they ever possessed. Most of the people were unable to even recall the event because they were terrified.
The strangest part of the flood is that there was no rainfall on the hill and it all happened because of the current of water. No one has been able to remember the number of lives that were lost.

The Noachian Deluge 1861-1862

It is famous as the biblical proportions flood, ranging from Oregon to Nevada.
• The rainfall started in November 1861 and it rained until May 1862.
• Even the days were dark during that time and it has been reported that the sun often made its appearance after a few days
• People would hear strange noises like the roofs were falling and people were stuck


It has been reported that the flood was same like the one that came in the time of Noah and most of the taxable property was destroyed. The Central Valley was now called the inland sea.
The rain water reached the second floor of the building and soon after the people found themselves on the roofs. The worst part was that in the lower sections, water reached the top of the telephone poles.
The people of San Diego had to take a temporary residence in other states so that they can earn and save to rebuild their town once again. For more than half a year the state was not able to meet the payroll.
The rain in San Diego was in the tropical proportion and that is why even the dry roads were turned into rivers and streams. Even a 50-foot-deep arroyo was filled with water. Even the trees, soil, Boulder, and livestock was carried away with water.
From here the river was channeled towards the False Bay and the other states that were at the lower level.


It has been found that in San Diego 200 people and more than 200,000 head of cattle drowned in the water. People said that it was like clouds and here to stay and they have been broken through. There was water everywhere. It seemed like the water is over and under the earth in conjunction.


The destruction was not over yet because after the flood drought followed and stayed for 3 years. There was no rainfall in the county and even the grass stopped growing. The rain changed its course and the cattle and sheep started to starve due to lack of water and fodder. People thought that the and will again turn into a desert.
It was the real devastation because there was not even a drop of moisture in the air. Cattle started to die in great numbers and all the sources of food and water were gone. The people of San Diego had never faced such kind of destruction and they thought it is never going to be better again.
There were corpses of cattle and horses everywhere and white bones were present on the hills.


Right after the flood, the plaque of smallpox broke out in San Diego. People were afraid of the infraction and they did not allow anyone from San Diego to come near their lands. They threatened to shoot the trespassers.
There was a family in which all the members were suffering from the deadly disease. His wife gave birth to a child and they buried him after a few days. This was one of the toughest times for the people of San Diego. The drought continued till 1865 and millions of people died either due to starvation or smallpox.

The Storm 1891

It was the worst thunderstorm in which there were 11.5 inches of rain within 80 minutes. The Storm had the highest world record for rain. It is known as the most violent tempest in the history. It started to rain in February and it continued for many weeks.
Within 37 hours there were 30 inches of rain and it resulted in severe damage. Some of the stations were destroyed beyond the limits of repair or recognition.

Bottom line

The storm has always been the worst on San Diego because it always led to floods. The people were not allowed to enter the other states and hundreds of lives were lost every time there was a flood in San Diego.