Watch CBS News

Evacuations Underway In Santa Cruz Mountains As Atmospheric River Fueled Storm Approaches

BEN LOMOND (CBS SF) -- Cal Fire issued evacuation orders Monday for residents living in the Santa Cruz Mountain burn area of last fall's devastating CZU Lightning Complex fire as a potent winter storm, packing as much as 6-8 inches of rain and carrying with it the threat of deadly mudslides, rolled toward the San Francisco Bay Area.

The orders were for residents in Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek and Felton.

The zones of the order include:

  • Ben Lomond Fire District (Zones: BEN-E001D, BEN-E002A, BEN-E002D, BEN-E004B)
  • Boulder Creek Fire District (Zones: BOU-E021A, BOU-E020, BOU-E017, BOU-E016, BOU-E010, BOU-E006, BOU-E001A, BOU-E002, BOU-E033A, BOU-E038A, BOU-E031B, BOU-E030, BOU-E018A, BOU-E014, BOUE009, BOU-E003, BOU-E001B, BOU-E015A, BOU-E039A, BOU-E040A)
  • Santa Cruz County Fire Dept. (Zones: CRZ-E001B, CRZ-E001D, CRZE002B, CRZ-E003B, CRZ-E003D, CRZ-E006B, CRZ-E006C, CRZ-E007A,CRZ-E017A, CRZ-E017C
  • Felton Fire District (Zones: FEL-E002A, FEL-E003B, FEL-E003C, FELE004A)

Read The Full Evacuation Order

A detailed map of the evacuation warning and evacuation order areas can be found at the ZoneHaven website.

Officials in both San Mateo and Monterey counties also issued evacuation warnings for burn-scar areas ahead of the major storm system.

The weather system was expected to arrive late Tuesday night and last through Thursday.

"The National Weather Service is expecting anywhere from 8-12 inches over the course of the storm for the Santa Cruz Mountains," Cal Fire officials said. "An evacuation warning means these individuals need to be prepared to leave immediately with a go bag and planned evacuation route."

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the Bay Area burn zones on Monday.

Evacuation centers have been set up at:

  • San Lorenzo Valley High School -- 7105 Hwy 9, Felton, CA 95018
  • Scotts Valley Community Center -- 360 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
  • Pacific Elementary School -- 50 Ocean Street, Davenport, CA 95017

For residents still weary from last fall's fires, the threat of heavy winter rains and potential mudslides have been weighting on their minds.

"I've been living with a kind of dread since the fire," Felton resident Steven Ellis told KPIX 5.

Ellis has lived in the Santa Cruz mountains for the last 10 years and had to evacuate during the CZU Lightning complex fires that burned through the area in August.

Battalion Chief Nate Armstrong said for those in the evacuation zones, it's critical to leave when asked to do so.

"By the time the rain starts falling, at that intensity, it's already too late if you aren't already gone," he said. "If you hear a debris flow coming, it's already too late."

Adam Legros is evacuating his home on Hwy. 236, and heading over the hill to be closer to his workplace. Last week's windstorm knocked down trees and heavy branches, and triggered a small mudslide behind his home.

"We just went through this with the fires and everything, so we're kind of used to it at this point we knew it was coming up so. Staying is not worth the risk," said Legros.

Susan Strouse had just returned from a long evacuation from the CZU, and must now evacuate again, heading to her son's house in San Jose.

"But we're glad to be leaving, because this storm is gonna be bad. It's kinda dangerous up here, it's good to get out," said Strouse.

The CZU fire scorched 86,509 acres, leaving behind scorched "hydrophobic" soil that does not readily absorb water, according to Dr. Laura Sullivan-Green, department chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at San Jose State University.

"When we have that intense heat, and that that burn debrief that changes the chemical composition of the soil. So instead of soil absorbing water like it normally would. It absorbs very little, if any, and then most of that water just runs off and it takes anything that's loose on on the top of the ground with it," said Sullivan-Green. "And these flows tend to be quick, so there's no outrunning them."

Boulder Creek Fire Chief Mark Bingham urged residents to leave and not increase the risk to themselves or first responders.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.