Atmospheric river brings spring storm, slick roads

Preparations are underway for a spring storm that is expected to bring a few inches of rain to the Santa Cruz Mountains.

PG&E says it has increased staffing across the Bay Area and is preparing to deploy crews to the Central Coast and Central Valley based on the forecast. Rain started falling Tuesday in San Jose and the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Officers with the California Highway Patrol in Santa Clara County responded to about 15 crashes in a three-hour time period.

One of those was a red Ford pickup truck that flipped while driving Southbound on Highway 17 around 12:45 Tuesday afternoon.

The shaken driver who was driving home says he doesn't know what happened.

Three Good Samaritans including U.C. Santa Cruz student Jordan Canales, stopped to help the man get out.
"We had to pry the door open basically. I couldn't get it myself and he couldn't get it either," said Canales.

The CHP says often drivers are surprised by how the slick roadway changes the dangerous stretch.
"You get drivers who when the roadway is wet...they think they get the same traction on the road," said CHP officer Adam Pate.

Just a short time later and short distance away, the driver of a blue Chevy crashed into the wet hillside.

The driver says he had been warning his company about the vehicle's tires and actually had just passed the other flipped pickup truck.

The CHP says bald tires, wet roads and possibly speed were factors in that crash.

Workers for Dick's Automotive tow service have been busy for the past week and expect that to continue.

"It's been absolutely non-stop. Most of our guys are averaging over 10 calls a day easy with the rain," said tow truck driver Aaron Milne. 

PG&E says outages started increasing Tuesday evening with about 5,000 people without power in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The utility expected more outages Wednesday, especially in the South Bay and Santa Cruz Mountains.
PG&E is prepared to open its emergency operations centers in Cupertino and Santa Cruz and is also preparing to send crews to the Central Valley and Central Coast where the atmospheric river is expected to have a bigger impact.