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Big, blustery storm expected to soak Auburn area

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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With as much as seven inches of rain expected to pummel the Auburn area on Tuesday, replacement wiper blades have risen to the top of shopping lists again. “This is it – I’m ready – Let it rain,” Greenwood’s Randy Rohr exclaimed as he finished replacing his truck’s blades outside Auburn’s Riebes Auto Parts. Rohr and a steady procession of wiper-blade buyers were a near-constant presence at the auto parts store and others around the city Monday. Shaun Clinkinbeard, the Palm Avenue store’s manager, said he expected a bigger increase in sales Tuesday, when the first big storm of the season hits. “We’ll be out there in rain jackets putting on replacement blades throughout the day,” he said. “It’s a big day for us when it starts raining again.” A forecast of a soaking – combined this time with strong winds – is also a harbinger of a spike in sales of tire chains, Rain-X, defoggers and portable, plug-in heaters, Clinkinbeard said. With new rain on roads that have absorbed oil and other residue, driving surfaces should be slick and dangerous, said National Weather Service meteorologist Felix Garcia. “For the first storm of the fall, this is pretty significant,” Garcia said. The threatened double whammy of high winds and heavy rain has spurred the weather bureau to issue a wind advisory and precipitation warning. Winds could reach speeds of 40 mph Tuesday while three to seven inches of rain could fall in some foothill areas. The storm is a warm one originating in the tropics, meaning little if any snow will dust the Sierra. Snow levels were expected to reach around 10,000 feet. Pacific Gas & Electric meteorologists are anticipating the height of the storm could pound the area just before noon Tuesday. Spokesman Brian Swanson said that PG&E will be tracking the storm to determine where the hardest-hit locations will be for crews to go to. PG&E’s chances of avoiding many power outages have been bolstered by its year-round effort to trim and remove hazard trees, Swanson said. On the plus side, the advancing storm comes while ground is still dry. Trees are more apt to be uprooted when earth is saturated. On the minus side, trees are currently loaded with leaves and other loose vegetation, making them more apt to break and cause damage to power lines. In their houses, people should have battery-operated radios to keep apprised of news during power outages, Swanson said. He added that candles can provide light but PG&E isn’t recommending their use because of the potential fire danger. “If you do, keep them away from lamps, drapes or anywhere children can reach them,” Swanson said. Jon Saunders, a Cool resident and Tevis Cup 100-mile ride official, said his pre-storm activity not only included installing new wiper blades but ensuring that dangerous tree limbs had been cut and ditches on his horse property cleaned out. “It’s the basic things anybody does – when you’re expecting six inches of rain,” Saunders said.