A Storm's A-Brewin'

High winds could cause a lot of problems this week. Here's how to deal.

The first storm of the winter will pack a punch, but don't bring out your rain boots just yet.

, according to the National Weather Service. Gusts of 60 to 70 mph are anticipated at higher elevations, with gusts of 40 to 45 mph in lower-lying areas.

So what if it will be a little breezy?

That means watch out for fallen trees and downed power lines. Roads may be closed and you could lose power.

“Obviously with downed trees and or power lines you basically want to stay away from all of them," said CalFire engineer John Peery, who is assigned to the Corralitos CalFire station at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Perry said people should always assume the power lines are live and therefore dangerous. The smart thing to do is call 911 and wait for an expert to check it out. 

What folks may not know that a generator can back-feed a fallen power line, so even if it's sheered off from the main power source, it could still be live “and can actually electrocute you," Peery said.

If a power line falls on your car, stay inside and call 911. Wait for help, the firefighter advised.

Falling trees are also dangerous. Let fire crews come out to deal with blocked roads or branches hanging low due to wind gusts.

“With trees a lot of people assume you can just drive underneath them but with high winds you never know what may happen next," Peery said. “It’s pretty common sense."

If anything falls—a tree, a wire, a power pole—call 911. If the lights just go out, report power outages by calling PG&E at (800) 743-5002.

Monitor power outages on this PG&E website, assuming you have web access during the blackout.

Check for road closures on the California Highway Patrol website (select "Monterey" in the drop-down menu under Communication Centers") and on the Santa Cruz County roads website. The CHP site is updated in real time, so it will list roads temporarily blocked by trees or power lines. The county site shows more serious closures that may take anywhere from several hours to several weeks to repair.

And let your neighbors know about problem areas by commenting on the story below.

Send photos of downed power lines or trees, or share videos of the storm by adding them to this story with the button below or send them via email to Watsonville Patch Editor Jennifer Squires at jennifer.squires@patch.com.

Jennifer Squires November 30, 2011 at 11:43 PM
Wires down at Bowker Road and Buena Vista Drive inside the airport property. People heard an explosion and said the field is smoking. Maybe this storm is hitting?


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