More rain, wind heading for Santa Cruz County — but less destructive than previous system

Looking from Capitola toward Aptos during a break between storms.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Another weather system is on its way to the Central Coast, and is expected to bring up to 3.5 inches of rain to the Santa Cruz Mountains and around an inch to the city of Santa Cruz and other lower-elevation areas. Though the National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory, meteorologists do not expect extremely strong winds like those that battered the county last week.

It’s not the end of the rainy season quite yet as more wet, windy weather is set to hit the greater Bay Area as early as late Monday night.

National Weather Service meteorologist Alexis Clouser said the coming system is forecast to make landfall around 11 p.m. Monday. It will linger in the area until Wednesday night, bringing about an inch of rain to the city of Santa Cruz and other lower-elevation municipalities and up to 3.5 inches in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Clouser added that as of Monday afternoon, local streams and waterways were not expected to flood, but that “nuisance flooding” — low-level flooding that causes short-term public inconvenience — is possible.

“Really small creeks, maybe some roadway flooding and pooling water from drains getting clogged is what we’re looking at now,” she said.

Despite the relatively mild outlook, meteorologist Roger Gass told Lookout late last week that if you live in an area that has had issues with impacts such as flooding and downed trees, you should prepare for that once again to be safe.

The NWS also issued a wind advisory spanning from Monday night until Tuesday at 2 p.m. Clouser said she expects to observe gusts up to 38 mph around Santa Cruz County, with readings as high as 40 to 50 mph in the mountains.

“We’re not expecting the same impacts as we saw last week,” she said, adding that fallen trees and downed power lines are still entirely possible due to the saturated soils. “It’s like oatmeal right now — there’s nothing to hold [trees and power lines] down.”

More rain is expected over the weekend, but as of Monday afternoon, that system appeared much weaker than the storms the county has been seeing for most of 2023 thus far.

“Details are still a bit fuzzy on that one, but if anything, it should be very light rain amounts. Maybe a few tenths of an inch,” said Clouser.

The intensity of the coming system and the milder weekend rain could further complicate the long-delayed reopening of Highway 9, a half-mile of which has been closed since New Year’s Eve due to a major landslide. But as of Monday, Caltrans was shooting to open one lane of the road by the end of March, said District 5 spokesperson Jim Shivers.

He added that that timeline is subject to change as the storm unfolds and Caltrans crews will be able to better assess the likelihood of completion.


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