Major winter storms involving high winds and heavy rain occasionally affect our area. Snow is possible as well. It is best to prepare in advance for these events. Some common suggestions:
If you have a generator, be sure it starts before the storm arrives. Have adequate fuel on hand as well.
Have enough non-perishable food and water on hand to go at least three days without assistance. A storm shouldn't affect us for that long, but we could be cut off in an earthquake, so be prepared.
Clear your gutters and culverts before the rain arrives. Check for blockages during the storm too, and clear them as needed.
Be sure your cell phone is fully charged. An alternate power source - a big battery to charge it with or a car charger - is also a good idea.
Have things for the kids to do while they are stuck inside the house.
Have flashlights (much safer than candles) a portable radio, and extra batteries for each available.
If you have neighbors who are older or suffer from serious medical conditions, power failures and cold temperatures can cause major health issues. Check on them if you can, and call 911 or get them to a doctor or shelter if needed.
While driving - even during the daytime - if your wipers are on, your headlights need to be on. It's the law: California Vehicle Code Section 24400 Headlamps on Motor Vehicles. Parking lights are not enough.
Longer term, monitor the trees near your home. Any tree that can drop limbs on your house needs to be well trimmed (for both fire season and to avoid damage from falling limbs) and free of dead wood. Inspect them regularly for splitting, rot, etc. Remove damaged or diseased trees near your home quickly as they are a hazard in both winter storms and summer fires.
If you are properly prepared you will be able to relax and enjoy the storm, rather than worry about it.
During the storm, the following information sources have proven useful. At the moment the list favors Santa Cruz County, but similar information should be available from Santa Clara County as well.
95033talk email group - neighbors sharing information about everything storm related. You have to join the group to see messages and post, but membership is free.
LPVFR may create an online hazard map specifically for a major storm and log incidents on it. Each storm gets a new map. The map URL is emailed and tweeted out when it is created, usually with the first incident of a major event. Past storm maps: Dec 2014 Feb 2015
Information Via Twitter - this can go to your phone if your power is out or you are not in front of a computer
@lomaprietafire - information about incidents from LPVFR
@calfireczu - information about incidents from Felton Cal Fire dispatch center
@firedispachsc - information about incidents from Santa Cruz County's main dispatch center - Netcom. Doesn't cover the 95033 area all that much, but has info about incidents in town.
Power Outage & Status
800-743-5002 - PG&E outage reporting number
PG&E Power outage map - interactive map showing where power outages are and how many customers are affected.
Road & Traffic Information
http://cad.chp.ca.gov/Traffic.aspx - CHP's dispatch center showing incidents they are working. Select "Monterey" in the upper left "Communications Centers" pull down to see incidents in Santa Cruz County. Select "Golden gate" for incidents in Santa Clara County.
http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ - CalTrans map of incidents from CHP and others, along with traffic flow.
http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi - CalTrans site to query specific highways. Enter 17 and get specific problems on that road.
Santa Cruz County Specific
Santa Cruz County road closures - updated hourly, or so, as DPW opens things back up. Longer term and construction related closures are also listed here.
Santa Cruz Sentinel Traffic Information Page - Santa Cruz Sentinel traffic information page
Santa Clara County Specific
408-494-1382 - Santa Clara County road status hotline
NOAA/NWS forecast for Summit & 17 - near the center of the LPVFR response area
http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap - the Weather Underground's weather map showing radar, weather stations, etc.
A list of other weather sites - some with a local angle.
Other Information and Services
Online Service Outage Status - status reporting of many, major, online services and service providers. Lookup your cellular carrier, etc. when things aren't acting properly.