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A crew clears fallen trees that block Carbonera Drive on Friday. (Shmuel Thaler/Sentinel)

SANTA CRUZ -- A healthy winter storm brought pounding rain, power outages and some flooded streets to Santa Cruz County on Friday.

Another storm is expected to blast the county Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

"There's some rain possible in the afternoon on Saturday but the heaviest will be overnight with fairly similar rainfall amounts," said Austin Cross, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

The drenching was heaviest in the San Lorenzo Valley, where Sentinel weather observers recorded more than 5 inches of rain from 5 p.m. Thursday to 5 p.m. Friday. Other areas such as Swanton, Corralitos and Happy Valley saw more than 3 inches, Sentinel weather observers reported, while Santa Cruz and Aptos recorded about 1.5 inches.

A flash flood watch will be in effect through Monday morning.

The rising Pajaro River flooded Beach Road on Friday morning, but a sandbar that blocked the river from the ocean was breached by ocean waves about 1:20 p.m.

Water receded Friday afternoon on Beach and Shell roads, Santa Cruz County officials said. When Beach and Shell roads flood, they can trap Pajaro Dunes residents in their beachfront neighborhood. Most vehicles could pass Friday morning through 1 foot or more of standing water.

Many Pajaro Dunes residents had urged the county to remove the sandbar earlier with heavy equipment -- which a crew had ready Friday morning.

Bruce LaClergue, county flood control program manager, said officials preferred the ocean sweep away the sandbar naturally to protect marine life. Federal and state rules dictate when equipment can be used to clear the sandbar.

"This is a naturally occurring phenomenon. We knew this would happen," LaClergue said of the natural outflow.

With the exception of the Pajaro River, no other rivers in the county were flooded, said county spokeswoman Melodye Serino.

A car tries to make it through flooding along Beach Street in Watsonville on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012.
A car tries to make it through flooding along Beach Street in Watsonville on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. (Shmuel Thaler/Sentinel)

Organizers of the Downtown Santa Cruz Holiday Parade said they would decide Saturday morning whether to run it. The event features floats, marching bands, fire engines and horses.

The parade is planned for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday on Pacific Avenue.

Chip, executive director of the Downtown Association, said an announcement would be made at 7 a.m. at www.downtownsantacruz.com. Heavy rain and wind could force its cancellation.

ROAD CLOSURES

Several roads were blocked due to fallen trees and downed wires on Friday.

Downed wires closed Highway 9 between Upper and Lower Glen Arbor Road. The highway was expected to be closed until 11 a.m. Saturday.

About 10 a.m., two trees fell off a hillside near the 100 block of Carbonera Drive, blocking the road and landing on top of a Honda CRV owned by UC Santa Cruz student Thomas Murray.

Standing in the rain in shower shoes, Murray surveyed the damage. He believed his car mostly was spared from serious damage.

"I was pretty surprised," said Murray, who lives in a Carbonera Drive home with a group of students. "I think it'll be all right."

Authorities cleared Carbonera of debris and reopened it about 4:20 p.m.

Trout Gulch Road at mile marker 2.51 was closed Friday morning due to downed wires but reopened by late afternoon. Highland Way at post marker 1.18 had one lane open due to downed wires.

The county Department of Public Works provides a frequently updated list of road closures at: www.sccroadclosure.org. The California Highway Patrol updates a list of Santa Cruz County collisions and traffic hazards on the Monterey section of its website at: http://cad.chp.ca.gov/Traffic.aspx.

POWER OUTAGES

Power outages peaked about 9:45 a.m. when roughly 1,400 customers were without electricity mostly in the San Lorenzo Valley, according to Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

A tree that fell on wires in Boulder Creek caused a major outage, as well as wires that were knocked down in Ben Lomond.

PG&E spokeswoman Monica Tell said about 600 residents were without power about 3 p.m. Crews expected power to be restored in both areas by 9 p.m. Friday.

Power outage information is online at www.pge.com/myhome/customerservice/outages.

WEATHER

National Weather Service forecasters said the storm system that will roll through Saturday night and Sunday is of similar magnitude of the system that soaked the county Friday.

Excess runoff from heavy rainfall is expected to cause puddling of water on streets, underpasses, poor drainage areas and low-lying spots.

Drivers are advised to allow for extra time to get to their destinations.

County officials warned residents to stay informed and prepare for quick action in case of flash floods or a flash flood warning.

The ocean roared to life with stormy surf conditions on Friday.

The Monterey Bay buoy reported a west swell of 12.5 feet at 13.3 seconds Friday afternoon.

Surf conditions are expected to remain sloppy and about 6-10 feet Saturday, according to Surfline.com. A west swell will drop to 5-8 feet Sunday but remain blown out.

Windy but cleaner surf in the head-high range is expected Monday. County authorities have warned surfers and swimmers about high bacteria levels in the ocean after rainfall.

Sentinel reporters Jason Hoppin, Donna Jones and Jessica M. Pasko contributed to this report. Follow Sentinel reporter Stephen Baxter on Twitter at Twitter.com/sbaxter_sc

storm preparedness TIPS

  • Be sure you have first aid and critical medical supplies on hand, such as prescription medications or insulin.
  • Be sure you have safe drinking water and food which requires little cooking and no refrigeration in case utilities are interrupted.
  • Be sure that your portable radios and flashlights are working and that you have extra batteries.
  • Purchase emergency materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber at local lumber and hardware stores ahead of time.
  • Fill up your car; filling stations may not be able to operate if electricity is off.
  • Check to be sure you have the necessary tools and know where and how to shut off the water, electricity, and gas at the main switch valves in your home.
  • As much as possible, avoid traveling during the storm. If you must go out, do not try to cross a flowing stream where the water is over your knees, and do not try to drive over a flooded road.
  • If your vehicle stalls, abandon it and seek safety.
  • Beware of downed power lines and broken gas lines.
  • Check with local media for weather and flood information.
  • The following signs may indicate a dangerous situation: ground cracking parallel to a slope; evidence of ground movement such as a slumping or bulging embankments; sloping floors within the house; doors and windows sticking; bowing or leaning retaining walls and sink holes adjacent to or near the house foundation.


    SOURCE: Santa Cruz County Emergency Services

    WEATHER FORECAST


    SATURDAY: 80 percent chance of showers, heavy rain at night. High 62, low 52
    SUNDAY: Heavy rain. High 62, low 45.
    MONDAY: Mostly sunny. High 61, low 47
    TUESDAY: Slight chance of rain. High 63, low 48

    SOURCE: National Weather Service

    Rain totals


    Aptos 1.33"
    Ben Lomond 5.41"
    Bonny Doon 5.43"
    Boulder Creek 6.49"
    Capitola 1.94"
    Corralitos 3.28"
    Happy Valley 3.80"
    La Selva Beach 2.46"
    Natural Bridges 1.51"
    Rio del Mar 2.32"
    Santa Cruz 1.74"
    Scotts Valley 4.71"
    Soquel 2.10"
    Swanton 3.15"
    Watsonville 4.89"