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Storms swell local rivers, prompting flood warnings

Posted: Monday, Dec 24th, 2012

Steady rain Sunday doesnt deter this great blue heron from searching for a midday snack near an irrigation ditch at an agriculture field on Beach Road. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE The National Weather Service released a flash flood warning Sunday for the Corralitos Creek region at 6:40 pm. as the second of two weekend storms drenched the area.

Runoff from heavy rains prompted monitoring by officials who ultimately triggered the release of a warning for residents to be aware of the possibility of flooding. Officials warned residents in hilly terrain and in typically flooded areas to stay away from areas that flood. By 8:15 p.m., officials stressed their warning as continuous rain drenched the region.

Meanwhile, in Santa Cruz, officials kept a wary eye on the rising, rain-swollen San Lorenzo River that charged through the city hauling giant hunks of timber, brush, entire tree colonies and debris toward the sea.

Santa Cruz Police Deputy Chief Rick Martinez said his department was apprised of the situation and that he was continuing to monitor the threat.

In Felton, Santa Cruz County Sheriff deputies went door to door warning residents of the possibility of flooding and a possible evacuation in the Felton Grove area as evening rains continued.

The storms are just the beginning of what the area can expect this week.

Its pretty much an unsettled week, National Weather Service forecaster Diana Henderson said. Were expecting rain showers off and on through the week.

Another storm is set to move in today, but its not expected to be as wet as the Sunday storm, Henderson said.

When asked about the downpour on Sunday, she said: Its because its slow moving. Its wetter than what came through Saturday. What came through Saturday was fairly dry. It was cold, and it was fast moving. This one is slower, wetter and gustier.

Meanwhile, Northern Californians slogged through another day of wet and windy weather, causing headaches for people driving on freeways and delays for air travelers.

With the ground already saturated from the previous rain, there could some flooding of small streams and creeks in Sonoma and Napa Counties, Henderson said.

For holiday travelers, the storm caused delays at the airports and on the freeways through late Sunday.

Weve definitely had our share of crashes but not a significant amount, said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Diana McDermott.

A nine-car pileup in Oakland and fatal crashes in Sonoma and Marin counties were among the traffic accidents caused by speeding drivers on slippery highways, McDermott said.

On the freeways, a high wind advisory was in effect Sunday for three of the four bridges that cross San Francisco Bay. Officials warned people driving campers or hauling trailers to stay off the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge and the Carquinez Bridge near Vallejo.

Authorities urged passengers flying out of San Francisco International Airport to check with the airlines on the status of their flights.

Its been one of those weekends, airport duty manager Shannon Wilson said of the delays caused by the bad weather. The main issues are the low ceilings, the rain and the reduced visibility.

On Interstate 80 through the Sierra, the main route between Sacramento and Reno, Nev., forecasters issued a winter storm warning, saying that heavy snow and strong winds could create whiteout conditions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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