By Len Ramirez

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (KPIX 5) — Santa Cruz Mountain residents are bracing for the next round of storms which could bring wind, rain and the threat of mudslides on the steeper slopes.

Karen Fishback and her family spent the day enjoying the last of the dry weather before another atmospheric river drenches their home in the Lexington Hills.

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“There’s a bunch of moisture coming over from the Hawaiian Islands and a bunch of cold air coming from Alaska and they meet here,” said Fishback. “And we get wet.”

The storm is expected to dump another 5 to 8 inches of rain on the Santa Cruz Mountains, which are already saturated from previous storms.

Evidence of unstable hillsides are everywhere. Tarps, netting, drain pipes and sandbags are being used to cover previous slides and divert water to prevent further movement.

Fishback says her family has lived in the area for over a century and knows that it has an unstable geologic history.

“You’re standing on the San Andreas fault,” she said.

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Mountain residents have had to dodge falling trees and falling rocks this winter. One slide on Highway 35 near Bear Creek Road has been active since the last series of storms two weeks ago.

But the area has not had a significant slide so far this season, although one civil engineering expert says the hills are primed.

“We may see some larger events, but definitely I would expect to see a lot of small movements,” said Laura Sullivan Green, an San Jose State University civil engineering professor.

One resident said it’s all part of the package of living in the mountains, where just driving home can be a challenge.

“The mudslides aren’t going to affect me,” said neighbor Terry Lawrence, who pulled over to check on a driver who ran off the road and collided with a tree on Highway 35.

“The weather is, the snow, the rain,” Lawrence said.

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