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Flooding Continues as We Prep for the Next Round of Rain & Wind

Here’s a look at your forecast for Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, and southern Santa Clara Counties!

Muggy, showery weather continues Monday while we monitor the ongoing flooding of the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers. Waters from the Pajaro continue to spill out of the river channel into surrounding areas even though the river itself is receding. The Salinas River has been actively flooding along its course this weekend, but the crest has not reached the lower stretches yet. It is expected to crest Monday with potential flooding of Highway 68 and surrounding areas. All the while, the next storm system arrives late Monday into Tuesday and will utilize the moisture stream to create heavy rain once again. Damaging winds and flooding appear likely again, so remain vigilant. Beyond that system (which could last into Wednesday with additional showers), the weather looks a bit more tranquil toward the end of next week with one weaker system arriving on Friday.


… for a levee failure on the Pajaro River near river mile 10 in effect until
5:15 PM Tuesday.

*Flooding caused by a levee failure continues.

*Flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations is imminent or occurring. This includes the city of Pajaro.

* IMPACTS...Flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations is imminent or occurring. This includes the city of Pajaro.

- At 11:07AM, Flooding continues due to a levee failure on the Pajaro River near river mile 10.

- Additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches are possible in the warned area tonight into Tuesday.

- Some locations that will experience flooding include...

Keep children away from storm drains, culverts, creeks and streams. Water levels can rise rapidly and sweep children away.
Turn around, don't drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.


…for Pajaro River at Chittenden in effect now until further notice.

*In coordination with the Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency as well as Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties flooding is expected to occur below official flood stage along the Monterey County portion of the Pajaro River due to observed impacts from the January flood event.

- At 27.5 feet, Water may begin seeping under muscle wall along the Monterey County portion of the levees.

- At 28 feet, Levee along the Monterey County portion of the Pajaro may overtop.

- At 29.5 feet, Parts of State Highway 129 between US Highway 101 and Watsonville will flood. The entire Pajaro River will have moderate bank erosion and sediment deposition.

- At 9:00 AM PST Monday, March 13 the stage was 23.00 feet.

- Forecast...Impacts will persist well after the river has dropped below the official flood stage. The river is expected to rise above monitor stage Tuesday evening and reach 27.5 feet Wednesday morning.

- Flood stage is 32.0 feet. Monitor stage is 25 feet.

- Flood History...This crest compares to a previous crest of 29.5 feet on 01/03/1997 and 27.7 feet on 01/11/2023.

... for the Salinas River from the San Luis Obispo County line to Soledad until further notice.

Moderate flooding is forecasted.

Motorists should not attempt to drive around barricades or drive cars through flooded areas. Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding.

* IMPACTS...At 14 ft, Minor lowland flooding is expected.

- At 16 ft, Minor flooding of agricultural land is expected. The lower portions of the San Ardo oil fields is close to flooding.

...At 18 ft, Minor flooding begins at the San Ardo oil fields.Significant flooding occurs along the lowest portions of towns from Bradley to Soledad. Erosion will cause minor damage to agricultural land. Some secondary roads from Bradley to Soledad will flood.

- At 9:30AM Monday, March 13 the stage was 13.16 feet.

- Forecast...Impacts will persist well after the river has dropped below the official flood stage. The river is forecast to rise into Minor Flood stage once again Tuesday night.

- Flood stage is 14.0 feet. Monitor stage is 12 feet.

- Flood History...This crest compares to a previous crest of 18.7 feet on 02/10/1978.

… for the lower Salinas River from Soledad to Monterey Bay in effect from Sunday afternoon until further notice.

*Minor flooding is forecast. The Salinas River is forecast to reach minor flood stage by this afternoon and will continue rising, approaching moderate flood stage Monday evening.

*IMPACTS…At 23.0 feet, A few farm residences will begin to flood near the Salinas River along the reach of the gage. River Road will begin to flood near Spreckels.

- At 24.0 feet, Significant flooding of the lowest portions of agricultural land begins within the reach of the gage. River Road and Spreckels Boulevard begin to flood.

- At 26.0 feet, Moderate flooding of agricultural land and lower portions of Soledad, Gonzales, Chualar, Spence and Spreckels. Primary and secondary roads begin to flood within the reach.
Highway 68 begins to flood. Levees in danger of breaching along the reach. At least 20,000 acres of farm land inundated in the Salinas Valley.

- At 27.0 feet, Moderate flooding continues along the reach. Approaches to river bridges within the reach begin to erode. Lower portions of Castroville begin to flood. Highway 156 near Castroville begins to flood. Flooding to Foster Road, 1 mile of Salinas.

-At 28.0 feet, Major flooding of agricultural land within the reach of the gages. Major flooding begins along lower portions of Soledad, Gonzales, Chualar, Spence, Spreckels and Castroville. Water/sewage treatment plants in danger of being flooded. Many secondary and some primary roads inundated making travel difficult in the Salinas Valley. Highway 156 and 68 inundated and closed. Major damage to wide expanses of agricultural land in the Salinas Valley with 40,000 acres inundated.

- At 3:00AM Monday, March 13 the stage was 26.2 feet.

- Forecast...The river is expected to remain above flood stage today and continue rising to a crest of 27.5 feet late tomorrow morning.

- Flood stage is 23.0 feet.

- Flood History...This crest compares to a previous crest of 26.5 feet on 02/26/1969.

… for the entire KION Coverage area in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Santa Clara Counties in effect from 11PM Monday until 5AM Wednesday.

*Southerly winds 20 to 40 mph with gusts 50 mph in the valleys. Gusts 55 to 70 mph immediate coastline and hills above 1000 feet.

*Damaging winds will blow down trees and power lines. Widespread power outages are expected. Travel will be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.

*Southerly winds will quickly increase during the overnight hours of Monday into early Tuesday morning as the first slug of energy arrives with the atmospheric river. Winds may ease slightly for a time on Tuesday then turn southwest as strong surface low pressure passes over the region.
Expect downed trees and limbs to lead to renewed power outages across the region.

People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches. If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.

Monday: Partly cloudy becoming mostly cloudy. Isolated showers with a thunderstorm possible over San Benito County. Highs in the 60s for most areas except Santa Cruz County which will remain in the 50s. Clouds and southerly winds will increase late in the day with widespread rain beginning before midnight.   

… for the near coastal waters of Santa Cruz & Monterey Counties including Monterey Bay from 9PM Monday until 3PM Tuesday

Southeast winds 20 to 35 kt with gusts up to 50 kt and seas 6 to 13 ft expected.

* WHERE...Coastal Waters from Point Pinos to Point Piedras Blancas California out to 10 nm.

* WHEN...From 9 PM Monday to 3 PM PDT Tuesday.

* IMPACTS...Strong winds will cause hazardous seas which could capsize or damage vessels and reduce visibility.

Mariners should alter plans to avoid these hazardous conditions. Remain in port, seek safe harbor, alter course, and/or secure the vessel for severe conditions.

…for the entire KION viewing area including Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and southern Santa Clara counties.

*In effect Monday evening through late Tuesday night.

*Flooding caused by excessive rainfall is likely.

*Creeks and streams may rise out of their banks. Extensive street flooding and flooding of creeks and rivers is likely.

- Rivers and streams are still running high and or out of their banks at this time. Periods of light rain will continue this weekend through Monday. By Monday night into Tuesday another strong atmospheric river will arrive bringing another round of heavy rain to the region. 3 to 7 inches of rain is
forecast for the coastal hills with 1 to 3 inches in the valleys.

You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible Flood Warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

Overnight: Mostly cloudy, with light showers becoming more widespread, moderate to heavy. Southerly winds will start off breezy, becoming stronger overnight. Mild low, mainly in the upper 40s to mid 50s.

Tuesday: Widespread moderate to heavy rain with gusty, damaging southerly winds at times. Winds ease a bit during the afternoon with some breaks in the rain for areas that are not coastal mountains. Winds pick up once again late. Highs in the 50s-60s.

Extended: Showers linger on Wednesday with winds slowly easing as well. Skies will be mostly sunny by Thursday with drier conditions expected. Another weaker weather system will move through on Friday.

This week's normal temperatures:

LOW: 45ºF
HIGH: 64ºF

LOW: 42ºF
HIGH: 68ºF

-The outlook from the Climate Prediction Center for March 20th – 26th calls for the likelihood of BELOW normal temperatures and ABOVE normal precipitation.

- El Niño/La Niña STATUS: Neutral

- Forecast: Neutral through the summer with eventual development of El Niño
-Area drought status: 
Abnormally dry for the Santa Cruz Mountains, the lower valleys of San Benito County, and southern Santa Clara County

Article Topic Follows: Local Forecast

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Erika Bratten

Erika Bratten is a weather forecaster for KION News Channel 5/46.


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