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Morning Lookout: Worst of the weather passes with minimal damage, COVID updates and more

Good Morning! It’s Wednesday, Jan. 27. It’s going to be a rainy day with a high of 53.

The Lookout team and I spent last night into this morning monitoring updates from the National Weather Service, Cal Fire and other local agencies, and I am happy to report I have good news to report out of last night’s intense “atmospheric river” storm, and what to expect today and later this week. JUST IN are the latest Bay Area 24-hour rainfall totals, including ones for Santa Cruz, Watsonville and our mountain communities. Click here to see those totals and all our updates, plus more below.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, sign up for our Breaking News Text Alerts to get the latest news and weather updates delivered straight to your phone. You also can sign up by texting “Breaking” to (831) 298-8906.

This morning, we’re learning more about President Joe Biden’s expansion of COVID-19 vaccine distribution including his administration’s move to buy 200 million more doses of the vaccine. Meanwhile, educators, child care workers and food and farm workers are among those who were given priority to qualify for the vaccine, the state announced yesterday.

Let’s get out the umbrellas and dive in:

Weather update: The atmospheric river plume moved over the Santa Cruz County area overnight, dropping, at its peak, an inch of rain every 30 minutes over the CZU Lightning Complex Fire burn scar. Even though the period of the heaviest rain has ended, showers are expected to drench the area through the rest of the day and a Flash Flood Watch remains in place through Thursday afternoon. Read more of the latest weather forecast here.

Damage: Cal Fire officials responded to about a dozen reports of downed trees and damage overnight — most of which were in San Mateo County, the agency said in response to questions from Lookout. So far, there have been no reports of injuries or mudslides, officials said.

Road closures: While damage in Santa Cruz County was minimal, the county says this morning that trees did come down overnight that are impacting roads. The Santa Cruz County Public Works Department maintains a database of real-time road closures to roads maintained by the county. For the latest impacts to highways, see Cruz511.

Read all the latest weather updates in our STORM WATCH story here.

COVID 2021 updates

A patient receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-through clinic in Watsonville
A patient receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-through clinic in Watsonville on Tuesday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

‘A wartime undertaking’: President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that his administration will rush additional vaccine doses to states, territories and tribal governments and purchase 200 million more, ramping up its effort to inoculate more Americans more quickly as the death toll from COVID-19 continues to rise. Under the plan, 10 million doses would be distributed each week for the next three weeks, up from the current 8.6 million. Read new details about this expansion in this story from our partner, the LA Times.

Educators, food workers join priority list for vaccines: Beginning in mid-February, some essential workers will be eligible for vaccines under new standards announced today. Then, the next priority group will be based on age, likely people 50-plus, not health conditions. Read more about the vaccine tier changes here.

Local vaccination update: Meanwhile, in Santa Cruz County, health officials have received 21,775 vaccine doses and have put 9,200 of them into arms. The county this week opened a vaccination clinic at the Watsonville fairgrounds in hopes of getting these shots out quickly. Read more of our daily COVID updates here.

Pandemic-ravaged Metro bus system gets a lifeline: As ridership continues a downward slide because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District is announcing some positive news: It’s getting a multimillion-dollar piece of the federal stimulus pie. In all, the bus system will receive roughly $13.5 million through the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Read more here.

California schools report fewer homeless students, alarming advocates: After years of steadily rising numbers of homeless youth in California, schools saw a significant drop during the last school year in the official tally of homeless students — leading some advocates to warn that thousands of students may have gone uncounted during the pandemic and are not receiving services they need. Read the story from EdSource here.

Another COVID read: Amid misinformation and ‘mistrust,’ Santa Cruz County leaders chart course to get vaccine to farmworkers (Patrick Riley / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Presented by Santa Cruz County Bank

Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services exists to improve the quality of life for children with cancer and...

Around the county . . .

Federal funds will advance Pajaro River Levee project (The Pajaronian)

Woman arrested in Watsonville knife-slashing case (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Review: Real Thai Kitchen delivers spicy, cozy specialties (Good Times)

That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying our coverage, please tell your family and friends about our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center, where they can sign up for all the newsletters and alerts we offer. You can also keep tabs on everything we’re publishing through the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Have a great day, and stay dry!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor