Mt. Hamilton closes due to snow

January 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
While some parts of the South Bay are drying out tonight, others are only getting worse. All roads leading to Mt. Hamilton were closed as of 9 p.m.

The road to Mount Hamilton is closed to the public because of snow. One by one, drivers are turned away and access to the snow capped mountain is blocked.

"We've got a lot of ice, slush, and snow on the road itself, but once the road is even clear, as long as there is any quantity of snow on the properties, we close it down," says University of California police Officer Mark McDonald.

Caltrans is still plowing snow from the road and a rock slide was only recently cleared. Visibility is also dangerously low.

Mount Hamilton is expected to remain off limits until Monday.

Meantime, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, progress is being made. Work crews cut and cleared trees and branches while PG&E says they have almost restored power to everyone.

Those in Boulder Creek and Ben Lomond are bracing themselves for another round of strong storms. Many residents filled sand bags to place in front of their homes and businesses as a precaution.

Earlier today, the sound of the storm seemed to change; there's the impressive roar of full rivers, the buzz of chainsaws clearing trees, and the thump of full sandbags in preparation for the next storm.

Wednesday, the San Lorenzo River looked high and forced the mandatory evacuation of Felton Grove. Now, the water is calm in comparison and so too are the residents.

"Much better, the rivers down. Last time I checked it was at eight feet," said Jill O'Brien-Rojo from Felton Grove.

"The banks of the rivers are cleared, so the rivers is flowing nicely, it's good," said Jim Merritt from Felton Grove.

The rain is steady but not intense. It is a welcome break but not an end to the problems. Thursday morning, a tree toppled onto Northbound Highway 1 near Capitola.

"Even though the winds have died down, the ground is saturated, trees are going to fall and things are going to happen," said CHP Lt. Les Bishop.

And because the ground is saturated, water is flowing in unexpected places, and sand bags are still in high demand.

"Loading up sandbags trying to keep the water outside," said Terry Olsen from Boulder Creek.

At Valley Churches United Missions in Ben Lomond, a wall of protection will stay in place at least through next week.

"We do need to get things in and out of the building, but until we do, I'm going to try to avoid taking them down," said Linda Lovelace, the operations director of the church.

People in these mountain communities are re-stocking their now depleted emergency supplies.

"It's been pretty good really busy, lots generators, filled up a couple of cans," said George Felder Jr., from Ben Lomond.

After nearly a week of non-stop calls, PG&E and road crews are almost caught up. The emergency operations center will continue to pay close attention to river levels and so too will the people who live near them.

"Next week it could be us or it may be those guys down there, you never know," said Tony Covey from Mt. Hermon.

The good news is none of the rivers are at flood watch right now and there are 10 road closures throughout the county. Earlier this week, there were 17 or 18 closures.