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Soggy Sonoma County to get a break from rain, but don’t put away the umbrellas yet

Sonoma County will get a brief respite from several days of rain that left thousands without power Wednesday, but don’t put away the umbrellas yet.

Another atmospheric river is expected Monday, but forecasters say it won’t be as heavy as the ones that preceded it.

Wednesday’s storm, which subsided early Thursday, brought significant rain to the west county, along with high winds in some places.

A tree was blamed for a power failure that affected thousands of Pacific Gas and Electric customers in west Sonoma County Wednesday evening, the company reported.

The tree struck utility lines on Coleman Valley Road, west of Occidental, knocking out electricity to about 4,000 customers in the areas of Occidental, Sebastopol and Graton.

By Thursday morning, that number had been reduced to 600. The utility’s outage map did not show any power loss in the area Thursday evening.

Power failures also affected smaller numbers of customers in the Cazadero area, Sea Ranch, Forestville, Glen Ellen, Guerneville, Monte Rio, Petaluma, Santa Rosa and Sonoma.

Authorities said the outages were caused by a storm that arrived Wednesday afternoon. That storm came on the heels of an atmospheric river that hit the region over the weekend and lasted through Tuesday, bringing more than 7 inches of rain to parts of Sonoma County.

Wednesday’s storm brought strong overnight winds, with gusts up to 55 mph on Oak Ridge east of Sea Ranch and up to 34 mph at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. The fastest gusts came in the evening Wednesday, according to the weather service.

The Santa Rosa Police Department warned drivers to avoid Montgomery Drive on Wednesday night after a tree fell into the road between Mission Boulevard and Melita Road and caused multiple collisions. The warning, sent in a Nixle alert around 7 p.m., was canceled after about two hours, when the department reported that the road had been cleared.

While Wednesday’s storm didn’t bring as much rain to Sonoma County as the atmospheric river that preceded it, several locations logged more than 2 inches of precipitation.

A rain gauge in Venado, in the hills north of Guerneville, recorded 2.87 inches over the 24 hours leading up to Thursday morning. That was Sonoma County’s highest measurement from the storm, according to data collected by the weather service.

Occidental got 2.33 inches, Healdsburg got 2 inches, Calistoga got 1.9 inches, Kenwood got 1.6 inches, Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park got an inch and Petaluma got about a half inch.

By comparison, the atmospheric river that arrived over the weekend dumped 7.65 inches of rain on Cazadero by Tuesday afternoon — the county’s highest reading. Santa Rosa got 3.8 inches from that storm, Rohnert Park got 3 inches and Petaluma got 2.5 inches.

The two storms caused the Russian River to rise more than 9 feet by Thursday morning, according to the weather service. The river rose from about 5 feet at the Guerneville gauge on Sunday afternoon to 14.2 feet on Thursday. It was expected to peak at 15.3 feet Thursday afternoon — less than half of its flood level of 32 feet — and recede to about 8 feet over the weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologists said the county is expected to stay dry over the next several days, but there is potential for another atmospheric river Monday.

The storm expected to arrive Monday is likely to be “a lower-end atmospheric river,” said weather service meteorologist Ryan Walbrun.

It’s set to last until Tuesday, when the North Bay is expected to get another break from the rain. Another storm is forecast later in the week, potentially soaking Sonoma County on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, according to Walbrun.

“The pattern looks like it’s beneficial rains,” Walbrun said. “I don’t see any really strong signals for excessively heavy rain next week.”

The wet weather represents “good news, not only locally but across the state,” Walbrun said. “There’s going to be snow in the Sierra and it’ll start to make a dent in the drought and put some water in the reservoirs.”

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Pera at matthew.pera@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @Matt__Pera.

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