The Bay Area is expecting the first big rain event of the year in the coming days and that is cause for deep concern in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Summer fires in southern San Mateo and northern Santa Cruz counties scorched the landscape and left little to impede a cascading flow of debris through areas already ravaged by wildfire.
The National Weather Service has issued a raft of warnings and watches, including a flash flood watch for fire areas. On Monday, San Mateo County issued evacuation warnings for areas burned in the CZU Lightning Complex fires of the summer. Those warnings became orders at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Affected areas include Butano State Park, Loma Mar and Dearborn Park. Authorities expect flooding and people in the area are asked to leave now, before dangerous conditions make leaving impossible. Some areas of Santa Cruz County were ordered to evacuate Monday night.
There is also a storm warning in effect from Point Reyes to Pigeon Point through this morning. Very strong winds are expected and mariners have been given a small craft advisory.
Rain was due to continue through this evening and intermittently into next week. Highs will be in the 50s and lows in the mid-40s through the period, and several inches of rain are possible in the days to come.
It is the potential for debris flow through the fire areas that most concerns emergency managers this week. These fast-moving landslides can be deadly and are predictable in areas scorched by wildfire. They can move as fast as 35 mph and carry boulders and trees in their path. Officials urge anyone in the potential path of a landslide to leave well before the danger intensifies. Roads can be blocked and residents could quickly be trapped in dangerous situation.