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Clear skies offer time to dry out

Posted: Friday, Feb 10th, 2017

Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian The driver of this Toyota sedan said the pavement suddenly dropped out beneath him, perching his car on the edge of a 100-foot sheer cliff on Valencia Road in Aptos Friday morning.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — Following a string of winter storms, sunshine started to break through a broken curtain of clouds Friday around Watsonville, ushering in a much welcome chance to dry things out. The National Weather Service said this weekend looks to be mostly sunny, with somewhat cooler temperatures.

The sunny spell will give many residents a chance to clear out their gutters, mop up flooded areas and enjoy the outdoors a little more.

Early Friday a cluster of pine trees crumpled to the roadway after a section of hillside caved in beside Valencia Road in Aptos near Flume Road. A motorist, who said his name was Ernie, said he was driving his Toyota Echo south of Valencia around 4:30 a.m. when he heard a loud rumbling sound.

“All of a sudden the pavement just fell out beneath me; it was frightening,” he said.

His red sedan was left teetering on the edge of the broken pavement with about a 100-foot drop down a steep hillside just off the passenger’s side of his car. Ernie, who was not injured, said it happened very quickly and that he did not have a moment to react.

A short while later a stand of trees dropped onto nearby Bear Valley Road, shutting off the roadway to traffic.

Seascape Boulevard resident Dave Silvernail said he was sitting in his house at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday when he heard a tree fall.

“It made a huge crash,” he said.

The tree severely damaged two of Silvernail’s vehicles, a Chevrolet Suburban and a Toyota Corolla.

“They were buried,” he said. “You couldn’t see them.”

A crew of workers from Lewis Tree Service was at Silvernail’s house Friday using chainsaws to cut apart the giant pine tree. The tree entirely missed two houses.

Meanwhile the storms have left two major corridors over the Santa Cruz Mountains, Highway 17 and 152 (Hecker Pass), shut down altogether due to rock and mudslides. The slide on Highway 17, which clamped traffic off in both directions starting on Tuesday, led to the death of a Graniterock worker Thursday.

Unstable land, exacerbated by more rain Thursday and Friday, forced officials to close both highways. Trista Drake of the California Highway Patrol said the best way to get over the hill to Gilroy and San Jose is to take San Juan Road out of Pajaro to Highway 101.

The National Weather Service said the next hint of rain is on Thursday.

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