Flash Flood Watch issued for parts of Bay Area starting Sunday

National Weather Service flood watch in the San Francisco Bay Area for Sunday, October 24, 2021. (National Weather Service via Bay City News)

With an "atmospheric river" set to hit the Bay Area starting Sunday, the National Weather Service on Friday issued a Flash Flood Watch for parts of the region, particularly areas that burned in wildfires last year.

The flood watch will be in effect from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday in the North Bay, 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and 5 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday in Monterey County, according to the weather service.

Heavy rainfall -- forecasters are predicting several inches of rain Sunday and Monday in some areas -- could lead to debris flows and flash floods, particularly in areas that burned in fires sparked by lightning storms in August 2020.

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Jonathan Cox, deputy chief of Cal Fire's San Mateo Division, said Friday that rainy weather coming through the region this past week has helped quell immediate concerns over any new major wildfires starting and "is very welcome for a lot of reasons."

However, the burn scars from the CZU Lightning Complex fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties last year are among the areas under the flood watch as the larger storm descends on the region this weekend.

"It's good news for the fact that it will reduce the wildfire risk, but any change in the weather will have another set of risks," Cox said.

Cal Fire and other first responder agencies in the two counties are encouraging people to check Zonehaven, a platform that helps communicate real-time evacuation information to the public and divides areas into evacuation zones. People can look up their address to find out their zone at https://community.zonehaven.com/.

Along with knowing their evacuation zone, Cox recommended that people in both San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties sign up for their respective county's emergency alert systems to receive text or voice messages in the event of an emergency.

San Mateo County residents can sign up for SMC Alert at https://hsd.smcsheriff.com/smcalert and Santa Cruz County residents can sign up for CodeRED, their agency's alert system, at https://www.scr911.org/.