Rain pelts Sonoma County

  • Santa Rosa Junior College student Chinel Kremesec walks from class in the rain on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/ PD)

Motorists skidded, slipped and crashed along slick Sonoma County roads Monday during a storm that brought about a quarter-inch of rain, National Weather Service meteorologists said.

Many grape growers spent the day resting, exhausted from an all-out effort over the weekend to bring in their crop before the storm hit. But they will have to wait a while longer for dry, warmer weather to dry out their vineyards and resume the harvest.

A stronger storm was expected to arrive at about midnight Tuesday and dump at least another half-inch of rain on the region.

The first winter-like storm of the season caused havoc on local roads.

Most of the 30-plus crashes handled by CHP officers Monday were caused by motorists driving too fast for the rainy conditions, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.

Two people suffered moderate injuries in separate crashes in Rohnert Park and Graton, Sloat said.

In Occidental, 884 customers were still without power late Monday due to a downed line reported at about 1 p.m., PG&E spokesman JD Guidi said.

Power was knocked out for more than 1,000 customers in the Roseland area of Santa Rosa at about 6 p.m. when a vehicle crashed into a utility pole. Power was restored to all but 51 customers by nightfall, PG&E said.

Monday's weather system, which stretched along much of the West Coast, had nearly petered out by nightfall.

“It's an early-season rain for us,” meteorologist Chris Stumpf said.

Partly cloudy skies and temperatures approaching 70 degrees were expected for much of Tuesday before another storm arrives from the Gulf of Alaska by midnight.

Grape growers scrambled all weekend to get the fruit off the vines, especially chardonnay and zinfandel grapes, which are more susceptible to damage from the rains.

As much as 30 percent of the county's grape crop is now in wineries' tanks, estimated Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission.

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