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County Escapes Storm With Mild Soaking : Weather: Piers in Ventura and Port Hueneme may be in for more damage. New front is expected Tuesday.


Ventura County escaped with a gentle soaking Saturday after a week of stormy weather that flooded streets and battered piers, but forecasters predicted very large waves the next few days as another rainstorm moves in Tuesday.

"The (Port Hueneme and Ventura) piers stand a very real chance of getting more damage," said meteorologist Rea Strange of Pacific Weather Analysis, a private forecasting firm in Montecito.

Parts of Ventura County picked up nearly an inch of rain as the brunt of the storm passed through during the early morning hours Saturday. The forecast called for more of Saturday's overcast skies and possible scattered rain showers today and clearing Monday.

The next strong storm front should arrive by Tuesday afternoon, said meteorologist Curtis Brack of WeatherData Inc., which forecasts for The Times.

In Port Hueneme and Ventura, where the municipal piers have been pummeled by high surf in recent storms, officials said they were most worried about the predictions of more big waves. Some meteorologists called for swells today of at least seven feet.

On the wooden planks of the Port Hueneme pier, Denis Murrin, city facilities maintenance supervisor, was working on damage control, trying to reinforce a section of the pier to withstand the oncoming storm. Still, he had a pessimistic prognosis for the pier.

"We're probably going to lose another 100 feet," he said.

Murrin and a team of workers spent Saturday building a track on the pier's deck to support a crane. The crane will be moved out on the pier to drive support pilings into the ocean floor to replace those washed away Wednesday night.

"We'll be in position to attack first thing in the morning," Murrin said.

At the Ventura Pier, a contractor spent the day putting straps around loose pilings in an attempt to prevent them from breaking, said John Betonte, Ventura maintenance services manager.

The continued bad weather was bad news for commercial fishermen and charter boat operators. Some said they have lost thousands of dollars in revenue because their crafts are unable to weather the stormy seas.

Erick Hooper, a commercial fisherman based in Ventura Harbor, said the storms had cost him a week's salary and damaged two of his fishing nets.

"If the sea stays like this, it will be bad, really bad," he said. "It's scary when you are out there because you can get swamped by the swells pretty easily."

Michael Hall, who owns a charter boat docked at Ventura Harbor, said regular customers who hire his vessel every January have canceled their trips.

"I was doing well until New Year's, but since then, we have been stuck at the harbor," Hall said.

If the wet weather continues, Hall said, "I'm going to lose a lot of money."

The wet weather led to at least one sale at Sea Junk, a used-boat supply store in Channel Islands Harbor.

Manager Chuck Schofield said he sold a battery charger to a boater whose bilge pump lost power.

"He had a lot of water coming in. He almost lost his boat," Schofield said.

Sgt. Don Maloney said the Channel Islands Harbor police planned patrols to check the water lines of vessels in the harbor, but reported no major problems Saturday.

Public safety officials on shore reported no flooding and no major rain-related accidents.

Rex Laird, executive director of the Ventura County Farm Bureau, said the additional rain was good for most farmers, but bad for some Oxnard Plain celery and lettuce growers whose fields flooded during the two-day storm last week. He said the full extent of the water damage will not be certain until the fields dry out.

In the meantime, he said, muddy fields will delay planned harvests.

* Times staff writer Christina Lima contributed to this story.


County RainfallHere are rainfall figures from the Ventura County Flood Control Department for the 24-hour period ending 6 p.m. Saturday. Oct. 1 is the beginning of the official rain year.

Rainfall Rainfall Normal rainfall Location last 24 hours since Oct. 1 to date Camarillo 0.55 6.89 4.99 Casitas Dam 0.67 8.40 8.30 El Rio 0.43 8.54 5.24 Fillmore 0.91 8.52 7.04 Moorpark 0.71 6.53 5.24 Ojai NA NA 7.30 Upper Ojai 0.87 9.09 7.77 Oxnard 0.79 8.82 5.01 Piru 0.47 7.48 5.94 Santa Paula 0.47 7.86 6.37 Simi Valley 0.87 7.01 4.99 Thousand Oaks 0.87 7.25 5.32 Ventura Govt. Center 0.67 7.88 5.56

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