After Brief Lull, New Storm System Moves Into Already Saturated Bay Area - NBC Bay Area

After Brief Lull, New Storm System Moves Into Already Saturated Bay Area

Highway 17 reopened Tuesday after a mudslide and North Bay braces for more Russian River flooding

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    Crews were able to open Highway 17 near Scotts Valley on Tuesday morning following a mudslide where motorists traveling in both directions were forced to share the two southbound lanes. Kris Sanchez reports (Published Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017)

    A new storm system moved into the already saturated Bay Area on Monday night, intensifying the flood waters, mudslides, traffic and overall chaos brought by the weekend deluge.

    Rain will continue to fall thoughout the Bay Area Tuesday and Wednesday. High wind warnings are in effect for most Bay Area counties Tuesday, as gusts are expected up to 25 mph in the morning and up to 40 mph in the afternoon, NBC Bay Area chief meteorologist Jeff Ranieri said.

    The break in the rain Monday was hardly enough time for emergency crews to clean up the mess left Sunday, especially a mudslide on Highway 17 near Scotts Valley, where motorists traveling in both directions were forced to share the two southbound lanes. Most of the backroads in the Santa Cruz Mountains also were closed. Highway 17 reopened early Tuesday morning.

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    "Just not going to San Jose, I guess," one motorist said Monday.

    “That’s what made me stay home today instead of going to work," an area resident said.

    A huge crane was being used to scoop up mud and debris on the roadway. CHP and Caltrans officals said crews will be working through the night to clear the northbound lanes, but the morning commute likely will still be affected.

    Along the Russian River in Sonoma County, the rain continued to fall, renewing fears of more flooding and more evacuations. Guerneville has been one of the areas hardest hit by the river's overflow, and residents there were bracing for even more rushing water Monday night and Tuesday morning.

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    Frank Murphy and his friends went to Guerneville to stock up on supplies Monday. They were unable to get there by car on Neeley Road, so they went by boat.

    "Milk, bread, eggs. They got beer," he said.

    Murphy, a retired San Francisco police officer has lived in the area for 30 years. He's seen it all, he said, but there's one thing he saw years ago he never wants to see again.

    "There's dams upriver, but if they feel they're in danger of breaking, they'll let the water out, and the spillways will flood us," he said.

    Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes. Some came to the emergency shelter at the Guerneville Veterans Building.

    The Russian River was above flood level Monday and is expected to remain there until about 6 a.m. Tuesday. With the new storm, the river is expected to return to flood levels early Wednesday, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

    In Pacifica, big waves and rain are taking a toll, from eroding cliffs threatening homes to a mudslide closing Highway 1 on Monday.

    "I noticed back up before the tunnel this morning," said Pacifica resident Cherie Leonard, who was on Highway 1 heading home. "Once I was in the tunnel for an hour, I realized something was happening."

    Bob Van Leeuwen's commute from Half Moon Bay to San Francisco had a similar fate after a saturated hillside gave way, blocking the northbound lanes of Highway 1 near Reina Del Mar.

    "It was four and a half (hours) total in my car," he said.

    In the South Bay, the only swift water rescue team in Santa Clara County, a firefighter squad from San Jose, had been prepping for the week ahead and actually launched into action late Sunday night to save a man and his son from the second story of a flooded house in Gilroy.

    "We try to pre-plan as much as we can," Capt. Jeff Riley said.

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    The team used a boat and ladder to rescue the two people and a family dog at a flooded home in the same vicinity where Highway 101 flooded and closed Sunday night.

    The latest round of precipitation on Tuesday and Wednesday is expected to dump several feet of snow near Lake Tahoe. Measurements along lake level could total anywhere from two to five feet. Elevations above 7,000 feet could accumulate four to seven feet.

    NBC Bay Area's Terry McSweeney, Cheryl Hurd, Jean Elle and Ian Cull contributed to this report.

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