Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian STORM TOLL Heavy winds, hail and pounding rains blasted the Central Coast Saturday night and knocked over several utility poles, power lines and trees along Larkin Valley Road on the 700 block.

Winds were so strong Saturday night that meteorologists issued a tornado warning on the  Central Coast including for Elkhorn and Prunedale, as well as areas around Aptos and Watsonville.

Just after 8pm, some residents reported seeing a “funnel cloud” touch down on the 700 block of Larkin Valley Road that knocked over several utility poles, power lines and trees on Larkin Valley Road at Larkin VIsta Lane.

“I could hear it and when I looked out the window I saw the rain was parallel to the ground going past my window,” said Maggie Larcher, a 20 year resident on Larkin Valley Road. “I heard all the cracking and that’s when all these trees and poles came down; it was really powerful. And then there was a warning on our phone. It wasn’t a watch, it was a warning.”

Larcher said she heard from officials at the scene that around 250 people were out of electrical power and that it would take until around 6pm to have it restored.

Nicole Sarment of the National Weather Service of the Monterey Bay Area, said the service got reports of a water funnel on the ocean that was moving inland between 6:15pm to around 7pm.

“When a water funnel reaches land it becomes a tornado,” she said. “We’re looking into damage reports to see if it was indeed a tornado.”

A towering eucalyptus tree also crashed to the ground on San Andreas Road at Margarita Road, blocking both lanes of the heavily traveled San Andreas Road for several hours before crews could cut it up.

A large crew from Pacific Gas & Electric was on the scene of the lines down on Larkin Valley Road before 9am. Larkin Valley Road remained closed through the night and into Sunday afternoon in that area.

Powerful thunder and bursts of lightning, punctuated with blasts of hail rolled through parts of Santa Cruz just after 7pm.

Sarment said on-and-off showers will move through the Central Coast today. But then another low pressure system will move in, along with widespread rain Monday through Wednesday.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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