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Bay Area Braces for Wet and Wild Winter Storm

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The storm brewing overhead will deliver desperately needed rain throughout the region, but it unfortunately comes in the form of an atmospheric river that will create as much damage as it does benefit.

The winter rainstorm quickly descending on the Bay Area has prompted widespread evacuations in the Santa Cruz County mountain ranges and a number of warnings and alerts for high winds and flash flooding in various other counties.

The system will move in slowly Tuesday afternoon and will grow in intensity over the next 24 hours, but rain and wind is expected to continue through Thursday afternoon. 

Recent burn scar areas pose the greatest concern for flash flooding and possible landslides — those include the East Bay Hills, North Bay, San Mateo County coast and the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The National Weather Service predicts upwards of 12 inches of rain and wind gusts of up to 70 mph at higher elevations between Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon.

A High Wind Warning has been issued for the North Bay Coast, San Francisco Peninsula, Santa Cruz Mountains and North Monterey Bay. Wind advisories are in effect for other portions of the North Bay, San Francisco Shoreline, Santa Clara Valley and in both the hills and valleys of the East Bay.

The rain will wreak pooling havoc on the roadways, making it best to avoid driving until the water subsides or risk both hydroplaning and vehicle flooding. The California Highway Patrol urges people to check tire air pressure if they do need to venture out. Fire stations and other municipal centers are offering sandbags in every Bay Area county.

The high winds can easily knock down limbs, trees and power lines — expect scattered power outages over the next 24 hours. Now is a good time to ensure you have candles, batteries and a go-bag ready and available.  

For those who live in or have loved ones in the Santa Cruz Mountains, please heed evacuation orders if you haven’t yet. Evacuation zones for the area can be tracked online here.

Evacuation orders and warnings expand in Santa Cruz County ahead of a storm expected to bring up to 12 inches of rain in some areas on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Map courtesy of Santa Cruz County)

The status of potential planned PG&E power outages can be found online


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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.

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