Intense storm drenches North Bay, leaving trees uprooted, homes damaged

“You could see the big branches coming toward the house and I said, No, no, no! And they hit and broke the glass and then that was it,” the 90-year-old homeowner said.|

“It was frightening.”

That’s how 90-year-old Verda Burr described the moment Saturday when a large fir tree crashed into a fence and then her roof.

She was standing 3 feet from a sliding glass door inside her Monte Rio home at about 10 a.m. as she watched the event unfold.

“You could see the big branches coming toward the house and I said, No, no, no! And they hit and broke the glass and then that was it,” she said.

Saturday’s “Dragon Storm,” as it was dubbed by a weather forecaster due to its shape on satellite images, left trees uprooted and homes damaged in Monte Rio as it drenched much of the North Bay. Some places around Sonoma County also lost power.

Verda’s son, Bart Burr, who lives at the house as a caretaker, said he and a sister visiting from Oregon sat in the home without electricity or heat after the tree fell. They lit a fire to keep warm.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. had to cut part of the tree as it also blocked the road next to their property, Bart Burr said.

As a result of the rainstorm, tall redwoods also struck nearby homes on River Boulevard, where a limb crashed into a home office and damaged three vehicles. A tree also took down a power line on Old Monte Rio Road and Alder Lane, Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman said.

More than 2 inches of rain fell Saturday with 50 mph wind gusts along the coastal North Bay mountains during the storm, according to the National Weather Service. The most intense part, however, exited the region just after noon and headed for the Santa Cruz Mountains, the weather service said.

Light rain was expected to resume around 6 p.m. in Sonoma County, but “the North Bay is really starting to see things calm down,” weather service meteorologist Brayden Murdock said Saturday afternoon.

“This has been one of the stronger storms this year, but this is what we expect from a December storm,” he said. “It’s been a beneficial rain — so, so far so good.”

Rain totals showed the most fell in the coastal mountains, with perennial wet spot Venado, about 12 miles west of Healdsburg, receiving 2.55 inches. Camp Meeker was recorded as getting 2.38 inches of rain and 2.6 inches in Mount Veeder.

Up to an inch of rain was reported around Santa Rosa and other lower elevations in the county, Murdock said.

About 531 customers in Sonoma County were without power Saturday from the storm Saturday, affecting Cazedero, Cotati, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Monte Rio, Sebastopol, Santa Rosa and Rio Nido. Power was expected to be restored to all customers by late evening or early Sunday morning, PG&E spokesperson J.D. Guidi said.

Saturday’s storm system was also responsible for widespread heavy snow, up to 4 feet in higher elevations, from the Sierra Nevada into much of the intermountain West, the weather service said.

A 250-mile stretch of the Sierra, from north of Reno to south of Yosemite National Park, was under a winter storm warning at least until Sunday.

Looking ahead, scattered showers are expected to return Sunday across Sonoma County and are possible through Monday morning, with chances for small, sporadic storms producing lightning.

Low temperatures are expected to drop into the 20s Tuesday and Wednesday morning in the North Bay.

You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates at 707-521-5209 or

Kathleen Coates

Windsor and Cloverdale, The Press Democrat 

As someone who grew up in a small town, I enjoy covering what's happening in Windsor and Cloverdale, which are growing in their own unique ways.  I delve into issues by getting to know people and finding out what’s going on in the community. I also pay attention to animal welfare and other issues that affect Sonoma County.

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