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Warmer Ocean Temperatures Could Strengthen Bay Area Storm Before It Arrives

MONTEREY (KPIX 5) – While a major storm won't arrive for another day, officials with the National Weather Service said warmer ocean temperatures could make the storm stronger before it arrives.

At the National Weather Service in Monterey, computer models of the brewing Pacific storm are becoming clearer. A high wind warning has been issued.

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"Confidence is increasing, the speeds are looking pretty strong. We're just discussing gusts of over 80 miles per hour in the mountains around the Bay Area," said Logan Johnson of the National Weather Service.

Not just high winds, but inches of rain and the potential for power outages, mudslides, flooding.

"The combination of wind and rain, it's been several years since we've seen something this strong headed our way," Johnson said.

The warnings have been going out from this weather command center to public safety agencies in the Bay Area all day.

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A growing concern has to do with what they call heat capacity and the timing of the storm, it hits when ocean water temperatures are unusually warm, in the low 60s.

"What that gives is a kind of fuel for developing storms over the Pacific," Johnson said. "Energize those storms coming our way, so that in turn could increase the amount of available rainfall that could fall in the Bay Area."

The big waves are already starting to hit. Even the National Weather Service monitors social media for instant information, such as a big wave reported in Santa Cruz.

"People love seeing the big waves and scary conditions out there and they flock to the beaches," said Larry Smith of the National Weather Service. "That's fine, just stay back from the water, don't go on the rocks whatever you do."

Forecasters say this storm has the potential to catch a lot of people by surprise, only because we've been in a drought, and they may have forgotten over the years how nasty a big Pacific storm can be.

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