Not Enough Rain To Raise Concerns Of Mudslides

Public works crews are prepared for rain in Santa Cruz County

FELTON, Calif. - Communities across the Central Coast have been begging for rain for weeks now and this weekend we may be getting our first official winter storm.  While every drop that falls from the sky is a welcome change, there's also the concern for unexpected heavy rainfall.  We went up to the Santa Cruz Mountains to see if there's any concern for mudslides yet.

People living up in the Santa Cruz Mountains are happy they can expect some rain Thursday night.  But we found out it may be a while before people would need to worry about the risk of a mudslide.

"Really heavy saturated conditions in the soil, then you have those heavy rainstorms, that's what we don't want to see.  We like to see a little drying time between storms," said Santa Cruz County Public Works Director John Presleigh.

Presleigh said it's been so dry, his crews have had extra time to catch up on flood mitigation and general maintenance around the county.  He said it would take something like 10 inches of rain to get him worrying about a major mudslide.

"We'd have to have a succession of storms coming through that really saturate the situation, heavy storms and that's when we get into trouble with mudslides," Presleigh said.

We checked around to see if anyone was prepping with sandbags yet, but couldn't find anyone working to protect their property.  Presleigh said that's probably because creeks and streams are so dry, there's plenty of room for them to fill up with storm water.  However, crews are on standby if those waterways start to overflow and ditches are at maximum capacity.

"The ditches are mostly clean and trying to keep up with that and the culverts are mostly clean.  But we also have on-call people if there is any type of situation where we have flooding," Presleigh said.

If there is a risk for mudslides or flooding in the coming weeks, local fire departments usually have sand for residents to bag.

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