Here we go again: another rainy, windy storm coming

With locals still cleaning up after Friday's big storm, another one is pointed at San Benito County and expected to impact the region Sunday into Monday
tree on south st.jpeg

As San Benito County briefly dried out and cleaned up Sunday following Friday's wet and windy storm and Saturday's persistent precipitation, more wet, windy weather was bearing down on the the area and expected to arrive Sunday afternoon. The oncoming storm prompted the National Weather Service to issue both a flood watch and a wind advisory for the county, along with much of Northern California.

Hollister Police Chief David Westrick reported on Facebook Saturday that a public works supervisor told him that all City of Hollister public works crews were on duty Saturday, helping clean up after Friday's storm damage. The chief said that approximately 142 trees — both on both public and private property — fell in Hollister as a result of the winds. Crews worked to clear streets and other hazards, clearing out the major ones, Westrick noted, and the clean-up would continue Sunday in preparation for the next storm.

"I checked it out and it really appears they got a lot done," Westrick said. "(On Sunday), they are going to focus on piles they've left, parks and clearing sidewalks. 

With more flooding possible along the Pacheco Creek near Lovers Lane and San Felipe Road north of Hollister, the San Benito County Office of Emergency Services on Saturday posted on its Facebook page about why certain repair efforts, like the ones ongoing at the Oroville Dam, could not be undertaken in San Benito County:

"The question has been asked: Why can The Oroville Dam use helicopters to drop rocks into they spillway but we cannot do the same on Pacheco Creek?

Here's the answer: Oroville Dam is a very different situation than what we have on the Pacheco Creek. We do not have access to helicopters and we are working as fast as we can given the conditions. We must use local contractors who are limited by access and weather."

Power outages are another local concern when there is high wind and the potential for downed power lines. Some rural residents of San Benito County who lost power early Friday morning did not get it back until Saturday after a power pole and transformer fell on to the road on Quien Sabe Road. The Sunday/Monday storm could bring similar impacts if its lives up to its billing.

Atmospheric River is flowing

The "atmospheric river storm pattern," as described by the weather service, was pointed at the Bay Area on Sunday, priming the region for more widespread flooding and additional mudslides, given recent rains and enhanced seasonal soil moisture and creek levels. High winds are likely, but will not reach velocities as high as Friday night's system, forecasters said. The storm was expected to begin late Sunday afternoon and stretch into late Monday.

The weather service cautioned about the threat for rock/mud slides and shallow landslides, as well as increased likelihood for downed trees, power lines and damage to or washed out roadways. A flood watch will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday and last through late Monday night for the mountains of San Benito County and the Hollister valley.

"Heavy rainfall is anticipated to fall on already saturated soils, elevated streams and filling reservoirs," the NWS reported. "Impacts include enhanced runoff/flooding in low lying areas and waterways, rising water levels/flooding in area streams, creeks and rivers. Increased risk of rock/mud slides in steep terrain, downed trees, power lines and damaged to or washed out. A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop."

Strong, gusty southerly winds in advance of the system are also expected to develop late Sunday night, especially along the coast and the hills. Locally strong and gusty winds will then continue through tonight and Monday, according to the NWS. Strongest winds are anticipated on Monday as a frontal boundary gradually moves south through the area. Winds will slowly diminish on Monday night.

The forecast alls for sustained southerly winds of 20 to 35 mph with gusts of 45 to 50 mph. Forecasters say the gusty winds will make driving difficult, especially for drivers of high-profile vehicles. Saturated soils will also contribute to an increased risk of downed trees and power lines during these stronger winds.

A wind advisory means that sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts of 45 mph are expected. 

For the latest local forecast, click here.

Adam Breen

Adam Breen has been a San Benito County resident since 1980 and graduated from Sacred Heart School and San Benito High School before earning a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. A father of two sons, Adam has taught newspaper, English and yearbook at SBHS for the past decade, after six years as a magazine editor for Santa Clara University. He previously was editor of the Hollister Free Lance and content director for BenitoLink.