At Watsonville Fire Station One on Second Street. Debra Johnson, Bryan Ash and others load sandbags into their vehicles Friday in preparation for heavy rains that could bring flooding to the Monterey Bay.
As much as a foot of rain predicted
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — In a conference room at the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office headquarters Friday, a cadre of officials were firing up computers and preparing their work stations for what is likely to be a busy three days.
The Office of Emergency Services was activated Thursday in preparation of a powerful winter storm that is expected to bring as much as a foot of rain on Saturday and Sunday.
That will be fed by an additional five inches predicted for Wednesday, and another five for Friday.
“That’s a lot of water against the (Pajaro River) Levee,” said Santa Cruz County Flood Control Program Manager Bruce Laclergue.
Recent work to increase the flow along the levee will likely help water move through the city, Laclergue said. He pointed out, however, that predicted river levels have not been that high since 1998, when waters flooded farm fields south of Highway 1.
The efforts will likely be needed. Santa Cruz County Flood Control Program Manager Bruce Laclergue said that the Pajaro River is expected to rise to 25 feet.
The OES brings to one location officials from all the county’s fire and police agencies, in addition to public works departments, water agencies, utilities and the local branch of the Red Cross.
The OES is a bustling place, dominated by a bank of giant screen televisions broadcasting weather updates and round-the-clock news.
Officials, meanwhile, work from the central office, directing their respective employees as they deal with crises that can be caused by storms.
A generator and battery backup stand ready in case of power outages.
“I think we’re as prepared as we can be,” said OES Manager Rosemary Anderson. She recommended that resident check gutters and storm drains and make sure they are clear of debris, securing flashlights, batteries, radios, sandbags and anything else you might need ahead of time.
The county’s mountains will likely bear the brunt of the deluge, but significant rainfall totals are also expected elsewhere in the county.
Santa Cruz County public works and emergency officials are planning to monitor rainfall, roads and stream levels throughout the weekend.
“Residents should prepare themselves and their families for what is likely to be a significant amount of rain over the weekend,” Santa Cruz County Emergency Manager Anderson said. “That includes checking gutters and storm drains and make sure they are clear of debris, securing flashlights, batteries, radios, sandbags and anything else you might need ahead of time.”
Those who must drive should do so with extreme caution, and plan extra time for travel.
Due to the likelihood of mudslides and falling trees, residents are also advised to avoid wooded areas such as heavily forested parks.
There is a 90 percent of rain today, which could be heavy at times. From 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. today there will be a high wind advisory, mostly for areas above 2,000 feet.
Saturday night will bring rain, which will also be heavy at times. The low will be around 55 degrees.
Heavier rain is expected Sunday accompanied by winds of 16 to 26 mph in the morning. On Sunday night rain will come mainly before 4 a.m.
Will Pi, meteorologist with the National Weather Service of Monterey, said next week will also see plenty of rain. Another weather system will usher in rain on Tuesday and that will be repeated on Thursday.
“After Thursday that may be the last of our major storms for a bit,” Pi said.
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