South Bay gears up for upcoming storms

Along the San Mateo County coast, first responders and PG&E crews are braced for high winds and heavy rain overnight and through the weekend, with an atmospheric river system now rolling through the Bay Area. 

Cal Fire crews went door-to-door to homes and hotels along the shore to warn people about the incoming storm.

"We are highly encouraging people to stay home, shelter in place, and be prepared for power outages," said Cal Fire battalion chief, Bob Simmons, who is expecting the storm to bring down many trees. "The ground is saturated and you get a little wind on that, it’s going to uproot them and push them over."

PG&E created a large staging area at Pillar Point Harbor in El Granada ahead of the storm, which it will use to deploy crews to any outages on Sunday.

The heavy rain also prompted concerns about flooding in low-lying areas, along hillsides and near area creeks.

"And then we’re looking at the higher tide with the storm surge," said Simmons. "That water is not going to have a lot of place to drain, and then we’re looking at 25-foot waves, crashing on the coast, possibly splashing up over Highway 1 near Surfer’s Beach."

Swift water rescue teams are also on standby and Cal Fire said it has placed an additional three engines along the coastline in El Granada and another in Pescadero. 

An emergency operations center provided by the State was also brought in to assist dispatchers in case they become overwhelmed by calls.

Meantime, Charise McHugh and her husband made a last-minute dash to one of Half Moon Bay’s free sandbagging stations as the rain rolled in.

"We’re getting the sandbags, and we have a sump pump under the house that we can pump water out if it gets too full," said McHugh. "We’re hunkering down all day tomorrow, you know. Candles are ready if we need them."

Cal Fire said it was hoping others in the area would remain indoors if possible, and also importantly, away from the dangerously high surf.