READ THE STORY: ‘The landscape of fear’: Big cats pay a price for avoiding areas now inhabited by humans
(Via Sebastian Kennerknecht)
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Morning Lookout: Watsonville evacuation warning, helping mountain lions and travel abroad

Good morning, everyone. It’s Thursday, March 9, and the latest atmospheric river is on our doorstep, forecast to bring as much as 8 inches to parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains in a deluge that could begin by late morning and continue into Friday.

Areas along many of Santa Cruz County’s waterways saw flooding during the series of storms that began on New Year’s Eve, and the City of Watsonville has already issued an evacuation warning for neighborhoods along the Pajaro River and Salsipuedes Creek, meaning residents should be prepared to leave if conditions warrant it.

A map showing areas of Watsonville at risk of flooding during a storm forecast for March 9-10
(Via City of Watsonville)

With the San Lorenzo River forecast to hit major flood stage in the Felton area Thursday night into Friday, Santa Cruz County recommends signing up for CodeRed emergency alerts here. You can find your zone and get more information on flooding here. And for information on power outages, check Pacific Gas & Electric’s outage center here.

A chart shows forecast flood conditions along the San Lorenzo River in Felton for March 9-10
(Via U.S. Geological Survey)

You can also sign up here for breaking news alerts from Lookout as we cover this latest storm.

If you want to explore what’s new this Thursday morning on Lookout, head this way.
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A crossing under Highway 17 at Laurel Curve is good news for mountain lions and other wildlife, and Isabel Swafford has a Q&A with UCSC researcher Chris Wilmers on how human encroachment is affecting the Santa Cruz Mountains puma population.

And in our Community Voices opinion section, Santa Cruz native Evan Quarnstrom has some lessons gleaned from his ongoing round-the-world trip — namely that travel abroad isn’t anywhere near as dangerous as some might have us believe.

OK, let’s check the Thursday headlines.

UCSC researcher Chris Wilmers on how a new Highway 17 animal crossing protects Santa Cruz mountain lions

P-81, a young male mountain lion, was discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains in 2020. He was killed by a car in January.
(Via National Park Service)

UC Santa Cruz professor of environmental studies Chris Wilmers has spent more than 15 years researching the population of around 50 mountain lions living in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Wilmers helped the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County develop a wildlife crossing underneath Highway 17 at Laurel Curve, which opened in January. He shares his thoughts on how to protect mountain lions from encroaching development. Here’s his Q&A with Isabel Swafford.

MORE LOOKOUT Q&As: Hear from local newsmakers in their own words

Don’t be afraid to travel post-pandemic: The world is less dangerous than you think

Evan Quarnstrom enjoys a family meal in Sri Lanka during his tour around the world.
(Via Evan Quarnstrom)

Santa Cruz native Evan Quarnstrom is on a post-pandemic year-and-a-half solo trip around the world and reminds us all of the benefits of travel and experiencing new cultures. Fear, he tells us, too often keeps us from life-changing experiences. In a Community Voices opinion piece, he details experiences in Sri Lanka, Mexico and Brazil, all countries deemed “dangerous” by his family, friends and even (at times) the U.S. government. Read it here.

MORE FROM EVAN QUARNSTROM: Skimboarding might be surfing’s little brother in Santa Cruz, but it’s given me family across the world


Santa Cruz County Job Board

That’s what Lookout has for you at the moment, but given the forecast, you’ll want to keep tabs with what’s going on around Santa Cruz County. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and we offer breaking news alerts, which you can sign up for right here. That link also gets you to our other newsletters, including the latest Weekender from Wallace Baine, hitting inboxes in early afternoon.

Our content isn’t possible without community support, so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Heed those warnings and play it safe if you’re heading out in the rain — I want to see you back here Friday.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz