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Sonoma County braces for atmospheric river, heaviest rain of the season so far

Communities across Sonoma County are preparing for the possibility of heavy rain arriving Tuesday afternoon, the forecast for which has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood watch into Wednesday.

“It’s going to be more rain than we’ve seen in some time,’ said weather service meteorologist Brayden Murdock. The flash flood watch goes into effect at 4 p.m. Tuesday, with the heaviest rainfall expected overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning.

Winds up to 30 mph with gusts up to 60 mph could accompany the expected 4 to 6 inches of rain that officials say could fall in Sonoma County as the storm passes southward through the North Bay.

Fire officials spent Monday and Tuesday checking their responsibility areas for trees that would be vulnerable to high winds and sufficient fuel to deal with power outages or to cut away downed trees when the storm arrives. Residents, though, can also take steps to maximize safety during the rains.

Cities including Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Cotati are providing free sandbags to residents to protect against water runoff that could cause flooding. A local hardware store is also offering free sandbags to residents while the flood warning is in place.

Rohnert Park’s Public Works Department will provide free sandbags at the rear of the Callinan Sports and Fitness Center parking lot, located at 5405 Snyder Lane. Residents are limited to 25 bags per household. Call the Public Works Department at (707) 588-3300 with questions.

Cotati’s self-serve sandbag station will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, with a limit of 10 bags per person. The station is located at 1 Trebino Court off of Blodgett Street.

Friedman’s Home Improvement stores is also offering up to 20 free sandbags per person at its stores in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Ukiah.

Additional sandbags can also be purchased at hardware or construction supply stores.

The National Weather Service also recommends that residents living on or near a burn scar pack a go bag that includes needed supplies, including medications and important documents.

A larger number of residents could be impacted by power outages, as strong winds are also expected to accompany the rains. Weather officials recommend all residents plan for extended power outages by keeping needed electronic devices charged and readying backup generators where applicable.

You can reach Staff Writer Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or kaylee.tornay@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ka_tornay.

Kaylee Tornay

Education, The Press Democrat

Learning is a transformative experience. Beyond that, it’s a right, under the law, for every child in this country. But we also look to local schools to do much more than teach children; they are tasked with feeding them, socializing them and offering skills in leadership and civics. My job is to help you make sense of K-12 education in Sonoma County and beyond.  

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