Timber Cove Fire Chief Erich Lynn has a tree problem. Or rather, he has a weather problem that causes tree problems.
“When the wind blows, they come down,” he said. “I mean, you can drive Highway 1 and see all the trees on the side of the road, and see exactly what we go through. I think we had 105 trees down last year. ... We take trees very seriously.”
Lynn said four fallen trees blocked roads in his district Tuesday, and three or four on Sunday. Along with his all-volunteer fire department, it’s his job to get them out of the roadway. And the weather isn’t likely to make his job easier over the next week.
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for the Bay Area including Sonoma County Tuesday afternoon that will continue until 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, with gusts up to 50 mph expected along the coast and at higher elevations. There is also a high-surf advisory in effect for the coast through 9 p.m. Wednesday.
And 1 to 3 inches of rain are expected by the end of Wednesday, but the rains won’t stop there, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson. “The storm door’s open and it’s going to stay open for the next week,” he said.
Anderson said the rain should stop by Thursday, then start up again Friday and after a break on Saturday, continue on Sunday. Then more rains will hit next Tuesday and likely continue into Thursday.
“Be prepared for more power outages. If you’re out at the roads late at night, certainly be aware of downed trees and limbs on the road,” Anderson said.
And many of those downed trees will become Lynn’s problem. His district includes a stretch of Highway 1 that is frequently closed by downed trees.
“Highway 1 gets a tremendous amount of traffic. People don’t have a clue,” he said. And while people are stuck in traffic waiting for Lynn and his crew to clear the trees, another tree can come down on top of the cars stuck on the highway. Lynn described that as “our biggest fear.”
Another problem, he said, is that helicopters can’t travel to The Sea Ranch during stormy conditions. If someone needs a medical evacuation, they have to go overland — which is often slowed down by fallen trees.
“We’ll actually just go down to the highway and meet them and escort them through our district just to make sure there’s no trees down,” he said. “And a lot of times there are. There are trees down.”
The rain has had the benefit of filling up the area’s reservoirs, however. Lake Sonoma was at 79.67 percent of capacity Tuesday, while Lake Mendocino was at 90.80 percent. Clear Lake measures using the Rumsey system, and was at 1.63 feet Rumsey. One year ago, Lake Sonoma was at 82.28 percent of capacity, while Lake Mendocino was at 85.61 percent and Clear Lake was at 2.59 feet Rumsey.