Live storm updates: Bay Area High Surf Warning downgraded to High Surf Advisory, NWS says

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Sunday, December 31, 2023
Level 3 Bay Area storm brings heavy rain, flooding, gusty winds
The Level 3 storm arrived Friday, bringing rain and strong winds to the Bay Area.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Storm impacts continued into Saturday after large waves hit the coast Thursday, causing flooding and evacuations. The National Weather Service forecast for the greater San Francisco Bay Area for Friday calls for up to 100% chance of rain throughout the day, with gusts as high as 30 mph expected to be experienced in most areas of the region.

LIVE: Track rain in San Francisco Bay Area with Live Doppler 7

Forecasters say the high surf will continue to batter the coast ahead of the next system, causing some coastal flooding issues. The next system will impact the region on Friday and Saturday, bringing gusty winds and periods of moderate to heavy rains.

TIMELINE: Here's how a strong level 3 storm will impact the Bay Area Friday


1:15 p.m.: High Surf Warning downgraded to advisory

The National Weather Service downgraded a high surf warning for the central and northern California coastline to a high surf advisory Saturday afternoon.

Wave heights -- which had reached 26 to 30 feet on Friday -- are expected to diminish to 16 to 20 feet on west-facing beaches, forecasters said.

A high swell from the west-northwest will create hazardous beach conditions through 10 p.m., the weather service said in an advisory.

A warning indicates that conditions pose a threat to life or property, and that travel will become difficult to impossible, according to the weather service.

An advisory indicates conditions pose a significant inconvenience and could threaten life or property.

The next storm is expected to bring gale force winds and very rough seas to the coastal waters on Wednesday, forecasters said.

11:15 a.m.: Santa Cruz County evacuation warnings lifted

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department said the evacuation warnings Coastal Rio Del Mar and Pajaro Dunes have been lifted:

CTL-E048 (Coastal Rio Del Mar)

CRZ-E070 (Pajaro Dunes)

More information here.


6:45 p.m.: Powerful storm brings heavy rain and damaging wind to North Bay

In the North Bay, the storm arrived Friday, bringing rain and strong winds. First responders urged everyone to be prepared for the rough weather.

In the North Bay, the storm arrived Friday, bringing rain and strong winds. First responders urged everyone to be prepared for the rough weather.

It was a wet drive on River Road in Santa Rosa. By midday, rain had arrived and umbrellas were on duty. The Gallagher family got caught in the downpour.

"We didn't expect to get as wet as we did," said Rory Gallagher.

Heavy winds are expected with the storm and first responders say holiday lights and decorations could blow away.

The Santa Rosa Fire Department says street flooding is likely across the North Bay and drivers should be super cautious. Power outages are possible too.

"With the potential of some thunderstorms, tonight there's going to be strong gusty winds, so trees and power lines could come down and that could lead to power outages as well," said Santa Rosa Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal.

A large tree took out the deck of a home in Cloverdale Friday. It happened on River Road and power to the home was cut. Luckily, no injuries were reported.

5 p.m.: Flood Advisory issued for parts of Bay Area until 9 p.m., NWS says

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Advisory for parts of the Bay Area, including San Francisco, East Bay and the Peninsula.

"Urban and Small Stream Flooding Caused By Excessive Rainfall Is Expected," NWS said on social media.

Residents should watch out for minor flooding of highways and streets in these areas.

4:45 p.m.: Evacuation Warning issued for parts of Santa Cruz County, sheriff says

Due to forecasts showing large overnight surf and high tides, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office placed the following zones into an evacuation warning. Warnings for these zones will be in effect beginning at 10 p.m.

CTL-E048 (Rio Del Mar area)

CRZ-E070 (Pajaro Dunes)

The sheriff's office says that residents in these zones should be prepared to leave should an evacuation order be issued. If residents feel unsafe, the office says they should make arrangements to stay elsewhere.

"Individuals are advised to avoid the coast. Coastal risks will persist into Saturday morning, and residents may want to relocate during the morning until the risk has passed," the Sheriff's office said in a statement.

Residents are told they can look up their evacuation zones here. Road closures can be monitored here.

4:30 p.m.: Capitola businesses clean up high surf damage

Cleanup efforts were the main focus Friday in Capitola, after high surf once again hit parts of Santa Cruz County extremely hard just the day before.

Cleanup efforts were the main focus Friday in Capitola, after high surf once again hit parts of Santa Cruz County extremely hard just the day before.

The cleanup work wasn't being done only by city workers, but also by community members.

David Corrigan doesn't have a home or business near the Esplanade. Still, he was found shoveling sand from one of the driveways.

"We take a lot from this little village," he said. "And from time to time, we got to give some stuff back."

Though the damage to the village was not as extensive as January's high surf, ocean-front businesses still took big hits from the high waves.

Like The Sand Bar, which had repaired its floor since January, only to have it buckle again, forcing at least a month-long closure.

Joshua Whitby owns Zelda's On The Beach.

Though he said his business took some damage, it could have been worse.

"The only damage I really incurred so far is this section of railing over here," Whitby said, pointing to the far end of his back deck. "My bus station got pushed over a little bit, all things that can be put back fairly quickly and easily for sure."

While Whitby plans to reopen Sunday, he and other business owners are working hard to bring attention to the businesses that are currently open.

"We are open, we are open. We're here," said Hillary Guzman, manager of El Toro Bravo. "There's a lot of the businesses down here in Capitola Village that are going to be open (Friday) and could really use your patronage."

Guzman and her family run El Toro Bravo at one of the lowest-lying areas in the Capitola Village. Though open, they still coped with flooding.

"We were just dust panning the water into the buckets, just trying to stay afloat," she said.

Though many businesses are already open, or at least able to reopen sooner than they were following January's storms, they agree that the hammerings they've been taking are not getting any better.

"It's not going to get better, with the storms -- just get worse and more frequent," Whitby said. "We're installing storm hurricane doors across the back of the restaurant just in preparation for the next one."

Though not expected to be as devastating, the next high surf event the ocean-front businesses are bracing themselves for is expected Saturday morning.

Even though many of the businesses are open and ready to serve, officials are urging people visiting the area to stay safe and follow any warnings.

2:30 p.m.: Coastal Hazard Warning issued for Bay Area, NWS says

The National Weather Service has issued a Coastal Hazard Warning for the Bay Area due to severe weather conditions.

A High Surf Advisory is still in effect until 6 p.m. Friday.

NWS says that roads may be closed and low-lying property -- including homes, businesses, and some critical infrastructure -- may be affected, as some shoreline erosion will occur.

Breaking waves can also sweep people off jetties and docks, and into dangerous seas. Life-threatening swimming conditions and significant beach erosion can be expected.

If travel is required, NWS says to allow extra time to reach your destination.

"Do not drive around barricades or through water of unknown depth. Take the necessary actions to protect flood-prone property. Inexperienced and all swimmers should remain out of the water due to dangerous surf conditions," it said in a statement.

4:30 a.m.: High surf to continue impacting coastline as heavy rain comes Friday afternoon

Along with high surf continuing to batter Bay Area coastlines, residents can expect gusty winds, rain and possible coastal flooding into the weekend, forecasters said.

On Friday, the rain will arrive in time for the evening commute, including a chance of thunderstorms, according to the National Weather Service.

"Expect a challenging Friday evening/night if out," a forecast briefing on Thursday stated. "Those with the option to leave work early or work from home, may want to consider this option."

A high surf warning issued by the weather service on Thursday is in effect along Bay Area coastlines until 3 a.m. Friday.

On Thursday morning, the Bodega Bay buoy reported a significant wave height of 28 feet. The Point Reyes buoy came in at 26 feet and the Point Sur had 29 feet.

Another round of high surf will impact Bay Area coastlines on Saturday, with more coastal flooding possible, forecasters said.

A coastal flood warning was downgraded to an advisory on Thursday afternoon and will remain in effect through 2 p.m. Friday due to a combination of high surf and potential storm surge, according to the weather service.

Thunderstorms are possible in the region Friday evening into Saturday morning, forecasters said.

High winds expected on Friday have prompted the weather service to issue a wind advisory for parts of the Bay Area.

South winds of 15 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph are possible from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, forecasters said.

The advisory covers the Sonoma Coastal Range, North Bay interior mountains, North Bay Interior Valleys and Santa Clara Valley, including San Jose.

Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result, the weather service said.

Winds will lessen Friday night and the rain is expected to taper off on Saturday.


5:30 p.m.: Evacuation orders lifted in Stinson Beach after storm surge flooding

It was a stressful Thursday for Stinson Beach residents where storm surge brought high waves and flooding; it prompted an evacuation order for the most of the day.

In the North Bay, it was a stressful Thursday for residents of Stinson Beach where storm surge brought high waves and flooding; it prompted an evacuation order for the most of the day.

High surf was crashing into a Stinson Beach neighborhood Thursday, filling streets with sea water in a matter of minutes.

"Right now, we're just trying to keep the houses from flooding," said Stinson Beach Fire volunteer John Hyland.

The storm surge enveloped most of the beach, coming dangerously close to homes. About a half dozen streets were flooded. The situation quickly sounded the call for sandbags. Members of Marin County's Search and Rescue team were filling them as fast as they could, a front loader delivered the bags to beach berms to try and keep the water out.

An evacuation order was issued about 9:40a a.m.

"We're asking everyone to get out, our objective is life, property and environment in that order, our main goal is making sure everyone is out of their safely," said Chief Jesse Peri from Stinson Beach Fire Protection District.

"We're just trying to barricade our house to make sure we're in better hands than last year," said Bella Bon from Stinson Beach.

Evacuation orders were lifted about 3 p.m. and no major damage was reported.

3:35 p.m. Evacuation warnings lifted for parts of Santa Cruz Co.

Santa Cruz County officials have lifted evacuation warnings for all impacted areas. Those include: CTL-E048, CRZ-E070, CTL-E027A, CTL-E027B.

Officials are warning residents to prepare for more rain on Friday and another coastal wave event that is expected early Saturday.

3:30 p.m.: High surf damages Capitola Village less than a year after historic storms

Massive waves have swamped roads and businesses in Santa Cruz County's Capitola Village. The flooding comes less than a year after storm surf caused major damage in the area.

Jeff Lantis is nearly back to square one at his Capitola business, the Sand Bar. It was devastated back by January's high surf, forcing it to close for six months. Now Thursday, much of the repairs made by Lantis have been undone.

"Our floor is ruined, it'll take at least a month to repair I would think," Lantis said.

"We're seeing widespread coastal impacts from high tides and extraordinary waves coming into low lying areas of the coasts," said county spokesperson Jason Hoppin.

Those lower lying areas included Rio Del Mar Beach and Seacliff State Beach. In less than 24 hours, the area was flooded with debris from high waves that came and went.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office warning people enamored by the beauty of the waves, that they could be deadly.

"With the waves being so powerful. If you turn your back for even a split second, you can be knocked over, swept away," said Sheriff's spokesperson Ashley Keehn.

Despite dealing with hit after hit to his business, Lantis says he loves his location and has no plans to leave.

By the evening, city workers and business owners were busy trying to get the area dry.

Charles Maier, owner of Paradise Beach Grille off Esplanade said his staff were cleaning up from water and sand.

Businesses in Capitola Village said the damage is nowhere near what it was earlier this year.

"No, not even close to what happened earlier this year so it was a bummer today, but it wasn't quite what it was last year so we're thankful for that," Maier said.

City workers were inspecting restaurants and other businesses along Esplanade for safety.

We saw a couple places yellow-tagged for restricted use, but the majority were deemed safe.

At Paradise Beach Grille, Maier said they plan to be open on Friday.

This holiday weekend for the charming beach town will be a big one.

"This last kind of the two week period is kind of the sunny spot in the winter for restaurants and retailers so we're hoping to get some people down here," Maier said.

Officials are warning residents to prepare for more rain on Friday and another coastal wave event that is expected early Saturday.

2 p.m.: Evacuation order, warning lifted for Marin County residents near Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach fire officials have lifted the evacuation order and warning for the areas of Calles Pinos, Pradero, Sierra, Onda Resaca, Ribera, and Embarcadero, as well as sections of Calle Del Arroyo.

They have deemed the area safe for those to return to their home.

1:30 p.m.: Evacuation warnings extended to Capitola Village

Evacuation warnings were extended to Capitola Village on Thursday afternoon amid a high surf warning that is causing flooding in multiple coastal areas of Santa Cruz County.

A temporary evacuation point for evacuees has been established at New Brighton Middle School at 250 Washburn Ave. in Capitola.

Residents in the areas of Pajaro Dunes, Seacliff State Beach and Rio Del Mar were also under evacuation warnings Thursday morning due to flooding from high tides and large waves.

Evacuation zones CTL-E027A, CTL-E048, and CRZ-E070 were under evacuation warnings as of 1 p.m. Evacuation zones can be found at

The evacuation center is also open to anyone who feels unsafe and wants to leave their homes preemptively. Water and power are available at the school.

The National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Warning for the Central and Northern California coastline that is in effect until 3 a.m. Friday. Waves of 28-33 feet, and as high as 40 feet, are forecast.

The public was advised to avoid coastal areas during the advisory.

11 a.m.: Evacuation warning issued for coastal areas of Santa Cruz Co.

An evacuation warning has been issued for a coastal area of Santa Cruz County near Seacliff State Beach on Thursday morning, county officials said.

The evacuation warning was issued for zone CTL-E048 because of large breaking waves and high tides causing safety threats along the coast.

Santa Cruz County has also extended the evacuation warning to the Pajaro Dunes area.

Residents can see if their zone is under a warning or evacuation order here.

Rio Del Mar Esplanade in Santa Cruz County flooded on Thursday, December 28, 2023.
Rio Del Mar Esplanade in Santa Cruz County flooded on Thursday, December 28, 2023.
Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County officials earlier Thursday advised residents to avoid various coastal areas, saying there is flooding along East Cliff Drive as well as the Rio Del Mar Esplanade.

A big log also has blocked the roadway at Moran Lake, according to the California Highway Patrol.

10:15 a.m.: Evacuation order issued for Marin County residents near Stinson Beach

Marin County residents have been ordered to evacuate Thursday due to possible flooding at Stinson Beach after forecasters said there will be severe weather conditions in North Bay areas.

Stinson Beach Fire issued the evacuation order for the areas of Calles Pinos, Pradero, Sierra, Onda Resaca, Ribera, and Embarcadero, as well as sections of Calle Del Arroyo.

The Marin County Sheriff's Office advised community members to stay alert as high surf and storm surges might flood and damage structures at Stinson Beach.

Residents were urged not to wade or drive through flooded areas.

Bay City News contributed to this story.

This story will be updated with new information as it is available.

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