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Storm drops as much 2 inches of rain on Sonoma County, knocks out power to thousands

The strongest part of the winter storm passed through Sonoma County overnight Tuesday dropping as much as 2 inches of rain and snow in the interior mountains but without triggering evacuations in 2019 and 2020 burn scars.

Downed power lines and toppled trees led to multiple road closures and knocked out power to thousands of residents into Wednesday morning as the rain and wind tapered off. The strongest gusts at higher elevations reached up to 60 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

“It came through exactly as predicted by the weather service and almost down to the minute,” said Mark Heine, chief of the Sonoma County Fire District. “Now it’s passed over us.”

Heine said his crews were “very busy” from about 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday, dealing with downed trees and power line issues, including limbs falling onto residences and into roadways.

“I’m not aware of any major incidents in the county,” he said. But he said he expected residents to find and report additional damage in the light of day.

A thick blanket of snow cloaked the Mayacamas Mountains in eastern Sonoma County and the peaks and ridgelines of Lake and Mendocino counties.

As of Wednesday morning, Cal Fire had received no reports of serious mudslides or debris flow at burn scars of the Walbridge, Glass and Meyers fires last year, said spokesman Will Powers.

Matt Gloeckner, battalion chief with the Santa Rosa Fire Department, said that he had a small crew staged with the Santa Rosa Emergency Operations Center, ready to respond to water rescues, or reports of major slides particularly in the scar of the Glass fire.

Instead, he said, “it all sat tight.”

In Rohnert Park, a toppled tree crushed a mobile home at 23 Rancho Verde Circle, said Sgt. Jerrod Marshall with the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety. No one was injured, but the mobile home was deemed uninhabitable and the residents are now staying with family.

Trees also crashed through the roofs of two homes in Guerneville and Monte Rio Tuesday night, but no one was injured, said Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman.

A portion of Bohemian Highway near Monte Rio remained closed Wednesday morning due to mud and debris in the roadway, Baxman said. Overnight, firefighters responded to numerous fallen power lines in the area, though there was no significant flooding.

“It was a quiet night,” Baxman said. “We slept most of the night.”

Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road remained closed Wednesday between Tin Barn Road and Clarks Crossing, according to Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works. The department said in a tweet that a tree was down, with wires across the roadway.

Snow and fallen trees also closed roads in parts of Mendocino County. The closures included Highway 101, which remained closed Wednesday morning in both directions north of Willits, with other closures at Laytonville and further north into Humboldt County. Officials have not yet provided an estimate for when the highway will reopen.

Scott Carroll, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said that the Eureka office had received reports of several areas that saw several inches of snow within a few hours of the storm’s arrival. Willits by 10:30 p.m. Tuesday had been covered in 4 inches, while Laytonville by midnight received 7 inches, Carroll said.

Snow showers are expected to continue through Wednesday, with more accumulation likely in locations above 3,000 feet in elevation in Mendocino and Lake counties, Carroll said.

“There probably will continue to be at least some light snow on through the night and into tomorrow,” he said.

In Sonoma County, thousands of residents lost power throughout a windy Tuesday night. About 3,300 awaited restoration at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Bodega Bay experienced the most widespread outage from 8 p.m. onward Tuesday, said PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras. About 2,600 customers lost power, and 1,000 customers had gotten it back Wednesday morning.

Both the Sebastopol and Forestville areas also saw between 1,000 and 1,500 customers lose power, Contreras said. Small outages peppering the county made for a challenging restoration process, she said, with crews fanning out in all directions to attend to customers.

Wind gusts in Sonoma County’s lower-lying urban communities peaked around 39 mph, said National Weather Service meteorologist Eleanor Dhuyvetter. Inland areas at higher elevations saw gusts reach 46 mph, she said, while the coast registered the highest gusts, around 60 mph.

The National Weather Service removed North Bay counties including Sonoma, Marin and Napa from a flash flood watch early Wednesday morning, keeping it in place for the South Bay.

“The main bulk of the moisture is really going through southern Monterey County,” Dhuyvetter said.

Santa Rosa in 24 hour totals received nearly an inch and a half of rain between Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Dhuyvetter said. Higher elevations saw about 2 inches.

Sonoma County residents should expect to see additional showers through Thursday, Dhuyvetter said, but “nothing as intense as what we saw, especially in the past 12 to 24 hours.”

Snow caused multiple spinouts and collisions in Mendocino County, said a dispatcher with the California Highway Patrol Ukiah office.

Carroll with the National Weather Service’s Eureka Office said that anyone planning to travel in Mendocino, Humboldt or Lake counties Wednesday should find out whether road closures or chain requirements are in place before leaving.

“Make sure you have an emergency kit with you and extra food and blankets in the eventuality that you break down or get stuck,” he said. “Some of those mountain passes got quite a bit of snow and are either closed or definitely have chain requirements.”

This story will be updated.

You can reach Staff Writer Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or kaylee.tornay@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ka_tornay. Staff Writer Ethan Varian at ethan.varian@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5412. On Twitter @ethanvarian.

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