Santa Cruz County prepares as rain is expected to impact CZU burn scars

Bay Area

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) – Santa Cruz County officials are keeping a close eye on Sunday’s storm — especially around the CZU Lightning Complex Fire burn scar.

This storm is not expected to trigger debris flow evacuations in the Santa Cruz mountains however. 

Santa Cruz County officials have been working during the dry months to remove hazardous waste and materials from fire-related debris and ash before it starts raining.

It was a dry Saturday in the Santa Cruz mountains but people stopped by Ace Scarborough Lumber in Boulder Creek to prepare for the rain expected Sunday afternoon.

“It’s been relatively busy. Busier than we would have expected for right after Christmas,” Michael Connell said. “Primarily what we’ve been selling is erosion control sandbags that you use outside your home and wattle straw, they come in these big 25-foot roll.”

The Bay Area got a wet Christmas on Friday. The National Weather Service is anticipating the next storm system Sunday afternoon to Monday.

Projecting the highest rain totals on the Big Sur Coast up through the Santa Cruz mountains.

“Depending on model to model run, we’re going to definitely keep an eye on it but right now it looks like they’ll see precipitation amounts that could be an inch to two inches,” David King said. 

Meteorologist David King with the National Weather Service Bay Area office says he’s also keeping a close eye on potential debris flow near the CZU fire burn scars but Sunday’s rain is not enough to trigger any warnings.

“The thing that really triggers whether or not you can actually have serious debris flow and flooding concerns where we would issue a warning, it depends on the rain rate so it depends on how strong the actual rain is falling,” King said. 

Debris flow danger signs are set up in Boulder Creek, an area hit hard by the CZU Fire that burned more than 85,000 acres in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.

In Pescadero, Cal Fire CZU crews are wasting no time, crushing wildfire fuel before it gets burned. Preparing 5 to 7 acres for a vegetation management project burn in the spring.

Back at Boulder Creek, Michael Connell spent the day selling rain protection supplies. He also lives in the Santa Cruz mountains, he was evacuated for a month during the CZU fire.

He says his home was built on the side of a hill, making preparations for rain, debris flow, or mudslides challenging. 

“As far as preparations go for us in terms of debris flow is packing a go-bag just being ready to leave,” Connell said. 

If you live near the CZU Lightning Complex burn area, Santa Cruz County officials say to be alert for changes and register your cell phone for emergency notifications.

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