SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) -- A third winter storm front ripped though water-logged Bay Area communities early Sunday, triggering widespread flooding from Sonoma to the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The California Highway Patrol was forced to rescue a driver who was stranded in the flood waters covering Highway 37 Sunday morning.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the entire Bay Area with nearly an inch of rain falling early Sunday in Santa Rosa to more the 1 1/2 inches coming down in the rain-soaked Santa Cruz Mountains.
Rain rates in excess half an inch a hour were reported in Santa Clara County with some areas reporting three quarters of an inch. Gusty winds triggered power outages including several thousand PG&E customers in Pacifica.
Thunder, lightning and intense downpours were forecast for the remainder of the day as cold, unstable air settled over the Bay Area as the winter storm front had moved through by 8 a.m. Sunday.
The weather service warned that conditions Sunday afternoon may be ripe for tornado-like winds.
The weather service said the Big Sur River was approaching flood stage. Areas of concern included the Palo Colorado Canyon, Parington Ridge, Tassajara Hot Springs and dispersed coastal properties along Highway 1 south of Carmel Highlands. Much of the local terrain was extremely steep and contains areas of moderate to high denuding from a wildfire last year.
The weather service also reported flooding in Rio del Mar in Aptos and the Corralitos Creek stream gauge at Green Valley Road rose rapidly and was almost at flood stage by 9 a.m.
Ponding was occurring in the Interlaken/Amesti area due to high water levels in College Lake, Drew Lake, Lake Tynan, Kelly Lake, and Pinto Lake.
Residents living or traveling near Loma Fire burn area should be on alert for probable road problems due to erosion, debris flows, rockfalls and debris.
The weather service said the latest river gage readings at Big Trees in Felton indicate water levels have reached flood stage which first affects Paradise Park downstream. It is likely that Felton Grove will flood as well.
In Southern California, flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for swaths of greater Los Angeles, where mountain areas could see more than 2 inches of rain. Evacuations have been ordered near wildfire burn areas in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange counties.
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