The he WWI iconic "Cement Ship" off the Aptos coast.
The combination of high tides and huge swells did extensive damage to the pier and iconic “Cement Ship at Seacliff State Beach.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Sunday Reads: Pineapple expresses, bomb cyclones, readers’ photos. Plus, more winter storm coverage

A note from Ken Doctor

Extensive damage to the Seacliff Pier and the WWII iconic "Cement Ship" off the Aptos coast.
The combination of high tides and huge swells did extensive damage to the Seacliff Pier at Seacliff State Beach and the WWII iconic “Cement Ship” that lay off the Aptos coast.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

What a week it has been. We awoke from the sleepy holidays to full-on news emergency, with, as Wallace Baine puts it today in Lookout, seemingly benign ‘Pineapple Expresses’ morphing into ‘bomb cyclones.’ And unfortunately, with all the devastation and dislocation they bring.

I want to thank the Lookout newsroom team that sprung into action as the storm arrived. They have tracked all, in dozens of posts in our continuously updated Storm Central, with photos and videos -- and the lifeblood of such reporting, carefully checked-for-accuracy information we all need.

One reader told me this week that she especially appreciated our stream of newsletter and text alerts. Up in Marin County, at 9 p.m. one night during the storms, she got our wrap-of-the-day email and decided she could safely tackle Highway 17 and get home.

A newsroom of 10 sounds large these days, as dailies have cut and cut, but it’s not a lot of people covering a county as diverse and far-flung as Santa Cruz. Managing Editor Tamsin McMahon has ably directed that coverage starting a week ago on the “holiday” weekend.

We’ve stretched ourselves to the limits with this coverage, and the voluminous months-long election reporting as well. But we’re happy to do it.

Readership is up 10x (!) this week, off of a base that has grown well over our two years and now numbers more than 8,500 total members. The notes we prize from readers are coming in, like this one Saturday: “Thanks for the amazing coverage of the storms — in so many aspects. You’ve been my go-to source, which is why I became a member. Please pass along my thanks to the entire team, from the great reporters and photographers to everyone doing the behind-the-scenes work. Kudos to you all.”

And maybe most gratifying, new memberships have tripled this week.

So thanks to the staff, the readers, all the members who make our work possible, along with all of you who have provided a pipeline of interviews and information as we cover whatever comes next.

As ‘Pineapple Express’ morphs into ‘bomb cyclone,’ how do we make new sense of our relationship with water?

Capitola Village
Capitola Village, already with a history of being hammered by winter storms, will remember the winter of ’23 for years to come.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

In California’s disaster mythology, the winter storm doesn’t carry the mystique of the earthquake and the wildfire. At the heart of the wet apocalypse is a great irony, that so many of us are in Santa Cruz exactly because of a deep and abiding love of water. Read Wallace Baine on this week’s storms.

MORE FROM WALLACE: Find all of his columns here

Santa Cruz County Storms in Pictures

Destruction caused by high river rise, high tide and huge swells.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Lookout’s photojournalist Kevin Painchaud crisscrossed the county this week, capturing the preparations for the storms and the aftermath of high winds, torrential downpours and devastating ocean swells. View a gallery of his photos from the week here.

VIDEO: See Kevin Painchaud’s storm video footage here.

Your Photos: A look at the Santa Cruz County Storm through our readers’ eyes

Car crushed by fallen tree in aptos
(Juan Adrian)

We asked our readers to send us their photos of the storm damage this week and you responded in droves. We’re brining you a selection of the best reader storm photography from across the county. See all the photos here.

More storms are coming – and the best of our coverage from the wild week that was

Pajaro Valley High School students Jesus Basulto and Karla Leyva eat organic salads prepared through a program they led.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Heavy rains and high winds moved through the region Saturday night. The National Weather Service forecasts that the rain will lighten up through Sunday before another round of heavy rain moves in overnight and into Monday.

A flood watch remains in effect for Santa Cruz County through Tuesday afternoon and NWS issued a wind advisory for Saturday into early Sunday afternoon.

Another storm — the wetter of the two — is expected from Sunday night through Tuesday afternoon, with heavy rains on Monday. It is expected to bring three to five inches of rain in most of the Monterey Bay, and six inches in the mountains with the possibility of up to nine inches at the highest peaks.

Wind remains a factor as well. Parts of Santa Cruz could see 30 to 45 mile per hour gusts, with some of the highest peaks in the mountains potentially seeing up to 70 mile per hour gusts.

Watsonville issued a flood advisory Saturday afternoon through Tuesday for neighborhoods near the Salsipuedes Creek. Pajaro Valley Unified School District planned to notify families if it closed schools and district offices. Several are in the flood advisory zone. Read more about where we stand on Sunday morning.


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