Numerous locals were jostled awake by ferocious wind gusts Friday morning as a potent storm system blew through the area, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a high wind warning through 2 p.m. There were numerous reports of downed trees and wires, with reports to 911 starting at 5:41 a.m. and picking up during the 6 o'clock hour.
The Hollister Police Department issued a statement saying "Due to high winds, several dozen trees have been reported down, along with numerous power outages all over the City of Hollister and region. Crews are out attempting to clear debris and trees from the roadways at this time. Please drive with due caution with traveling."
There were reports of a gas leak on West Street between Nash and Powell and locals posted photos of wind-caused damage —including downed trees and fences —on social media. The gas leak prompted the closure of San Benito High School for the day. Principal Adrian Ramirez posted on Facebook: "Hello SBHS Community! Please note that due to the current storm and damages on and around our campus, we have been directed by the Hollister Fire Department to cancel school for today. We will continue to keep you posted."
Police also said that Sally Street was closed due to a "partial roof collapse and gas leak" between Hawkins and South Street. A shelter in place order was issued while crews worked to stop the leak.
Winds were expected to gradually decrease late in the afternoon as the system pushes inland. Southeast winds 30 to 40 mph with gusts greater than 60 mph were forecasted through the area, and the effects were already felt in San Benito County before the sun rose, with sporadic power outages and downed tree limbs.
According to the NWS, "Strong winds may cause property damage and will make driving difficult especially for high profile vehicles. Since the soils are saturated, there is a heightened potential for downed trees and power outages. A High Wind Warning means a hazardous high wind event is expected or occurring. Sustained wind speeds of at least 40 mph or gusts of 58 mph or more can lead to property damage."
Meanwhile, a flood watch is in effect from 8 a.m. through late Sunday night for the Hollister valley as widespread, moderate to heavy rain was forecast to occur across the region on Friday.
"Initially, this rainfall will result in rapid rises on creeks and streams across Monterey and San Benito counties," the weather service said. "Some smaller creeks and streams may reach or exceed bankfull."
The primary impacts will be localized ponding of water on low-lying roadways with poor drainage, rapid rises on streams and creeks with some possibly exceeding bankfull and potential rock and mud slides in areas of steep terrain, the NWS said.
A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. Locals are encouraged to 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.