(BCN) — Monterey County residents were advised to prepare for major roadways to be closed due to flooding between Thursday night and Sunday morning as flood-stage water flows move through the Salinas River to the coast. Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto said at a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Salinas River crossing at Blanco Road that residents in the areas of Chualar, Spreckels and Las Palmas Ranch could be cut off from essential services as the river crests.
She said flooding would likely be a threat for areas from southwest Chualar to Spreckels and from the River Road corridor to the Salinas River Lagoon. Nieto noted the situation was changing by the hour and urged residents to check the social media pages of the Sheriff’s Office and the county for official updates. The most accurate mapping of area flooding can be found at the county’s website, she said.
“This is a slow-moving event,” she said.
The river is forecast to stay at flood stage through 9 a.m. Sunday. Travel disruptions should be anticipated on state Highways 1 and 68, River Road, Reservation Road, Blanco Road and several secondary streets, Nieto said.
“It is imperative you do not attempt to traverse these roads,” said Nieto. She said later in the press conference, in response to a reporter’s question, that area bridges could be closed due to the risk of flooding over the bridges but not because of structural threats.
County Water Resources Agency engineer Shaunna Murray gave an update on the water flows that she said will make the river crest in different areas at different times as the increased volume moves downstream. Murray said peak stream flows were still moving toward Chualar before 1 p.m. Thursday.
An updated forecast Thursday indicated the peak flow in the Spreckels area will be lower than previously forecast, but flooding remains a threat to River Road, Spreckels Boulevard and other low-lying roads.
“This is a dynamic situation that is subject to change,” Murray said. Water agency staff are continuing to monitor river level flows.
California Highway Patrol Capt. Reggie Williams said the CHP was working with Caltrans and other agencies to provide safety on area roads during the flooding.
“Please limit your travel during this particular time,” Williams said.
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Monterey County Supervisor Wendy Root Askew said that county supervisors had been monitoring river levels all week and said they were working to ensure state and federal resources were available for the communities impacted.
“We are managing very unpredictable and uncommon conditions on the Salinas River,” she said. Tyller Williamson, mayor of the city of Monterey, said that flooding might not be directly hitting the city, but those who have family around the area and those who work in the city and live elsewhere would be impacted. He said he had reached out to hoteliers to help communicate the latest information to visitors to the area.
“It’s important that we’re working in coordination,” Williamson said.
Nieto said area hotels are offering discounts to evacuees and there is shelter space available in the county for anyone experiencing homelessness. The latest information from the county about storm impacts can be found at tinyurl.com/winterstormMC.
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