MONTEREY – As rain continued to move across the central coast and bay area on Friday morning, the region braced for a powerful storm on Sunday that is expected to bring widespread rainfall and possibly end another fire season catastrophic.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for the burn scars from the Carmel, River, Dolan and Willow fire scars in Monterey County as well as the burn scar from the CZU Lightning complex in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the burn scars in the bay area before The Atmospheric Sunday River. Surveillance will be in effect in Monterey County from 5 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday.
The weather service said heavy rains could cause debris flows and flash flooding in and near areas of recent burns. Rapid water accumulations in urban areas and poor drainage areas will be possible and the weather service said it could not rule out the possibility of mudslides and leaching over steep terrain.
The atmospheric river on Sunday and Monday morning could bring more than 2 inches of rain to the Monterey Peninsula, with higher total precipitation forecast for Big Sur and the Santa Lucia Range. Areas north of San Francisco are expected to experience the storm’s highest precipitation totals.
At noon on Friday, Monterey had received 0.10 inches of rain in the past 24 hours, while Salinas had received 0.06 inches. Big Sur received 0.57 inches of rain.
While Thursday’s storm remained north of Monterey County, precipitation records have been broken for San Francisco Thursday, with 0.44 inch of rain recorded at 6 p.m., surpassing the previous October 21 record of 0.13 inch in 1970, according to the National Weather Service.
By 8 a.m., 72-hour total precipitation had reached 10.16 inches on Mount Tamalpais, 4.29 inches on Mount Diablo, 3.04 inches at Ben Lomond in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 2.37 inches inches in Santa Rosa, 1.71 inches in San Francisco, 1.04 inches in Oakland, 0.5 inches in Redwood City, 0.75 inches in Fremont and 0.2 inches in San Jose, according to the weather service. Precipitation was not recorded over most of San Jose, but it rained 0.47 inches in eastern San Jose.
Another cold front arrived on Friday morning, bringing light to moderate rains to the area.
Caltrans authorities have issued road closures in Mono, Kern and Inyo counties before the expected snowfall in these areas. The first closure came into effect Thursday evening on Highway 120 West.
Altitudes above 9,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada might get 18 inches or more of snow Sunday through Monday morning, according to the weather service, which also warned of possible power outages, difficult travel and road closures due to snow.
The Weather Service has already issued a Saturday night to Monday afternoon flash flood watch for parts of the northern California interior as debris and ash flows could occur during Sunday’s storm over the burn areas in Plumas, Shasta, Tehama and Butte counties.
The staff of the Monterey Herald contributed to this story.