SANTA CRUZ -- Hang onto your hat. It's going to get very windy and wet as a series of storms swings through the region, starting Wednesday.
"For people living in areas prone to flooding and power outages and mudslides -- and they know who they are -- this is a pretty significant series of storms that will have a cumulative effect," said forecaster Bob Benjamin of the National Weather Service in Monterey.
The initial storm Wednesday could bring an inch or more of rain at the coast and several inches to mountain areas, he said. By Sunday, when the Monterey Bay area is expected to see the heaviest rainfall, the region will be soaked.
The first sprinkle will fall in the early hours of Wednesday, probably just before sunrise, Benjamin said. Heavier rain will appear about 7 or 8 a.m. and continue throughout the day before tapering off in late afternoon. It also will be "very windy," he said, with wind speeds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting to 45 to 55 mph along the coast and mountain ridges. Thunderstorms also are likely.
"It will be fairly intense, very windy, but it will move through fairly fast," Benjamin said.
Thursday could provide a respite, with the forecast calling for only a chance of showers. But Benjamin said the second storm is due Friday morning, bringing more heavy rain and significant wind. More showers are expected Saturday in advance of a third storm late Saturday night into Sunday.
Benjamin said while the first two storms will be heaviest to the north of Santa Cruz County, Sunday's will be focused on the Monterey Bay region.
Surfing conditions will be poor for the rest of the week, according to Surfline.com. Wave heights are predicted to be 3-5 feet Wednesday with a swell from west-northwest. Waves are predicted to be 4-6 feet on Thursday, and 8-12 feet on Friday.
The forecast prompted PG&E to issue a reminder that high winds and heavy rain can damage break poles and down power lines, causing power failures and posing safety hazards.
Report power failures to PG&E's 24-hour emergency response line at 800-743-5002.
Follow Sentinel reporter Donna Jones on Twitter at Twitter.com/DonnaJonesSCS
Santa Cruz FORECAST
WEDNESDAY: High 62, heavy rain, possible thunderstorms, winds of 20-30 mph gusting to 45-55 mph
THURSDAY: High 63, mostly cloudy, chance of showers
FRIDAY: High 63, rain, heavy at times, windy
SATURDAY: High 64, showers
SUNDAY: High 64, heavy rain, windy
SOURCE: National Weather Service