The sky is falling: Thunder, lightning, hail hit South County

Karina Johnson checks to make sure her car is unharmed after a

With thunder and lightning already hovering over Gilroy, local
public works crews are gearing up for a wild week of wind, rain and
possibly hail.
With thunder and lightning already hovering over Gilroy, local public works crews are gearing up for a wild week of wind, rain and possibly hail.

Almost an inch of rain fell on south Gilroy from Monday to Tuesday evening, and about four to six more are expected to fall on the already drenched South Valley before the storm begins to taper off this weekend. This week’s highs will be in the mid-50s, and lows will be in the mid-40s.

A series of thunderstorms blowing off the Pacific Ocean at about 30 mph ushered in the week-long tempest Sunday. And the storms are here to stay at least for a few more days, said National Weather Service Forecaster Larry Smith.

However, “tonight and tomorrow are the big days,” Smith said. “There’s a chance we might get some pretty decent thunderstorms.”

The NWS Web site also warns locals to watch out for hail brought on by the thunderstorms.

“It will be hit or miss,” Smith said of the hail.

But that’s not the only unusual weather taking place. Earlier this afternoon, a twister touched down in Sunset Beach in Southern California.

“That’s unheard of,” Smith said.

While mountainous areas will see even more wind and rain than the valley floor, coastal areas could be especially dangerous with 25 to 30 foot waves pounding the beaches, Smith said.

“If you’re planning on heading to the coast, watch the waves,” he said. “Coastal flooding could be an issue.”

Although the City of Gilroy and Santa Clara County officials did not report any major flooding, crews were working to clear out as many culverts as possible and set out flood signs in areas prone to flooding, such as Columbet Avenue, a dispatcher at the county’s South Yard in San Martin reported. The city does not plan to open its Emergency Operations Center but is ready to respond if issues arise, City Administrator Tom Haglund said.

Sandbags are available at the South Yard, 13600 Murphy Avenue in San Martin, as well as at Gilroy’s Chestnut Fire Station, 7070 Chestnut St., and Las Animas Fire Station, 8383 Wren Ave.

No county roads had been closed around Gilroy and the county had not received any reports of downed trees or power lines, said Connie Stottrup with the county’s roads maintenance department.

“Everything is fine so far,” she said.

The week of storms is certainly good for the valley’s perennial water shortage as 2006 was the district’s last really wet year, said Santa Clara Valley Water District spokeswoman Susan Siravo.

“This was something we definitely needed,” she said. “We’re doing OK for being in our third year of drought. This storm has definitely given us a boost.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the district’s reservoirs were about half full.

Water district crews were also out in force monitoring the region’s creeks and streams – especially Llagas Creek, which tends to be a problem area, Siravo said.

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