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.
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