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From Downed Trees To Flooding, Atmospheric River Rains Down

An atmospheric river that originated near Hawaii will continue to rain down on the Monterey Bay area through Thursday morning. The storm has caused big problems, including power outages, flooding and downed trees.

Fallen trees and powerlines across Highway 1 near Point Lobos stopped traffic Wednesday morning. Cars were backed up to Monastery Beach, about a mile away. Mark Machado pulled over to wait in his white truck.

“Very breezy. Trying to dodge the trees and traffic. But still getting some things done,” Machado says.  

Machado has a business called Aquajito Pools and he had a job in the Highlands. He eventually got through when crews reopened Highway 1 around noon. But piles of tree branches still sit alongside the roadway; you can smell the sap in the air.

Gusty winds also brought down trees in downtown Carmel.

That’s where Kim Theobald has a homegoods shop called Ami. When she got to work, she noticed the top-heavy Monterey Pine tree in the sidewalk near Ami was swaying.

“It's freaky. There is concrete all around it so I thought, oh it's going to hold it down. And then I started to see the concrete actually moving up and down,” Theobald says.

If the tree fell, it could have crashed through the roof of her shop or other nearby businesses, including the Carmel Post Office.  Luckily, the city hired local tree service companies to help out. Iverson’s Tree Service and John Ley's Tree Service removed the pine before it toppled over.  

Credit Kim Theobald
Crews successfully removed the Monterey Pine before it fell and potentially damaged several shops in downtown Carmel.

John Ley says with the past few storms, he’s been incredibly busy.  

“I've had at least half a dozen calls today [Wednesday] that I'm not even going to be able to get to until tomorrow, just to look at them,” says Ley.

The atmospheric river also caused flooding throughout the region. The ground is saturated from a few other storms so low-lying areas flooded quickly.

California Highway Patrol Santa Cruz tweeted a picture of a car submerged in water on a Brookwood Drive. In the tweet, CHP said, “Do not drive through roadways that are flooded. You never know how deep the water may be. This driver was fortunate to escape.”

The National Weather Service has a Flash Flood Watch in effect through Thursday morning for the entire Monterey Bay area. Areas above 1,000 feet are under a High Wind Warning and valleys are under a Wind Advisory.  

As of 11:45am Wednesday, about 14,590 PG&E customers are without power on the Central Coast. 

Erika joined KAZU in 2016. Her roots in radio began at an early age working for the independent community radio station in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. After graduating from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in 2012, Erika spent four years working as a television reporter. She’s very happy to be back in public radio and loves living in the Monterey Bay Area.
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