Walking down a damp Pacific Avenue.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Rain, wind to hit Santa Cruz region Monday evening — power outages likely in mountain areas

A weak atmospheric river is forecast to bring Santa Cruz County up to 2 inches of rainfall and wind gusts of up to 45 mph overnight Monday and into Tuesday, leading Pacific Gas and Electric to prepare for outages. Rainfall and potential thunderstorms are expected to arrive after 4 p.m. Monday and clear out by early Wednesday.

While it’s not expected to bring as much rain as the most recent atmospheric river to hit the Bay Area and Central Coast, a storm Monday night could bring Santa Cruz County up to 2 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 45 mph.

“We are pre-positioning crews today in areas that are expected to see the most outage activity, which typically includes the Santa Cruz Mountains,” Pacific Gas & Electric spokesperson Mayra Tostado wrote via email. “We have stockpiled power poles, power lines, transformers, and other electric equipment to restore power to impacted areas as quickly as possible.”

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for the Bay Area and Central Coast regions from 7 p.m. Monday through 3 a.m. Tuesday. South winds between 20 to 30 mph, with gusts of up to 45 mph, are possible and could bring down tree branches and power lines, and make driving difficult for cars with trailers or large vehicles.

“During the last atmospheric river storm, we saw hundreds of outages on the Central Coast due to trees or tree limbs damaging electric equipment,” wrote Tostado. “This remains a concern for this storm as well due to the drought-intensified conditions that weakened vegetation and could cause more trees to fall into our equipment and cause power outages.”

Fearing debris flow in areas affected by 2020’s CZU fire, the county urged more than 3,000 households to evacuate during a 24-hour window amid the previous atmospheric river; no debris flow occurred, but power outages were widespread. PG&E reported more than 10,000 households were affected in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties as a result of the storm Oct. 24.

The majority of the rainfall is expected between Monday night and Tuesday morning with periods of light rain through end of day Tuesday. Once the rainfall stops Tuesday evening, temperatures are expected to warm up Wednesday and through the end of the week accompanying drier conditions.

Tips for storm-related outages from PG&E

-Keep cell phones and other electronic devices charged.
-Have extra batteries for flashlights and avoid using candles because of the fire risk.
-Secure or store outdoor furniture to prevent wind and rain damage.
-For those with landlines, PG&E recommends using a corded telephone that doesn’t use electricity.
-If you see a downed power line, call 911 and don’t go near it.
-Report power outages and receive updates on your outage status by calling 800-PGE-5002 or visit www.pge.com/outages.