Rain causes traffic and flooding issues in Bay Area

Highway 1 flooded in the Sunset District
December 18, 2010 12:27:04 PM PST
There is so much new Sierra snow at least one Lake Tahoe Highway is closed due to avalanche danger and there is more stormy weather to come.

Rain, snow and wind do not make for very good driving in the Sierra, so authorities are urging drivers to be extra careful. Snow can be seen starting at the 5,000 foot level.

Chains are required on the major Sierra Highways in the Lake Tahoe area. On Interstate 80, chains are required from Kingvale over Donner Summit to the Nevada state line. On US50, chains are required from Kyburz over Echo Summit to Meyers. In the Lake Tahoe Basin, State Route 89 is closed from US50 to Emerald Bay due to avalanche hazard.

Caltrans is enforcing chain controls at the Kingvale Exit.

Rain didn't stop shoppers Friday night

The rain is already a nuisance for people trying to finish-up holiday errands and that's only going to get worse. There was enough rain on Friday night in San Francisco to cause a few hassles, but not enough to cause major problems.

Out west, city crews closed down the Great Highway between Lincoln and Sloat because of a small amount of flooding. They don't know why water collected in the road, the rain didn't seem that severe, but will investigate once the water subsides.

Aside from that, public work crews reported a quiet night. They said breaks in the rainfall made all the difference, giving the water time to drain.

The rainy weather is hitting during a busy weekend of shopping and parties, but Union Square still looked full of life.

The most exciting call that ABC7 heard of was a fight that broke out between people that were fighting with their umbrellas. They were fighting over a taxi.

Sheltering the homeless

EHC Lifebuilders is one of the largest emergency shelter providers in Santa Clara County with 375 beds available at three cold weather sites. It plans to tap into all of its resources to help the homeless during this storm. The shelter expects to fill every one of its beds and then some.

"We're planning on going over numbers as need be and we're also planning to transport folks as necessary. When one shelter gets full, take them someplace else where there are more openings," said EHC Lifebuilders CEO Jenny Niklaus.

"They're predicting it's going to be really wet the next couple of days, so I'm going to stay at the facility and make sure I am warm and dry," said homeless veteran David Campbell.

Meantime, crews from the Santa Clara Valley Water District got a jump start on the storm. Wednesday, they used heavy machinery to clear creeks of fallen trees and debris that could cause potential flooding problems. It also placed web cams at vulnerable hot spots that include trash racks over the openings, to prevent creeks from becoming clogged.

Businesses are also worried. This is the last shopping weekend before Christmas. That could mean a lot of people just staying home and shopping online or heading to the indoor malls.

Residents prepare for storms to hit Santa Cruz Mountains

In San Carlos, shopkeepers and homeowners were stuffing sandbags on Friday in preparation for potential flooding problems that could come as a result of the upcoming storms.

Residents in the Santa Cruz Mountains are bracing for a heavy storm ahead. The public works department in that area is monitoring rain and river gages, and will have crews on standby in case there are any serious problems.

The storm's potential has a lot of people stocking up on supplies, flashlights, batteries and plastic. People in the Santa Cruz Mountains are generally more prepared than most. Many businesses and even homeowners have generators. Rough weather seems like a rite of passage.

In Boulder Creek the fire chief isn't so much worried about the rain, but the one-two punch storms like this often bring.

"I'm more concerned with the combination of the wind and rain. Then we'll have the downed trees, power lines, roads closed," says Boulder Creek Fire Chief Kevin McClish.

When it comes to wet roads, the California Highway Patrol is issuing the standard warnings: slow down, give yourself more time to get to your destination, and allow for more braking distance.

On Friday, Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains, there were 16 crashes; five were on Laurel Road alone.

Weather-related traffic incidents:

East Bay

The CHP says wet roads were likely a factor in a big rig crash early Friday morning on Highway 4 in Contra Costa County. The CHP says the truck crashed into a chain link fence just east of Laurel Road about 12:30 a.m. The driver was taken to the hospital, but his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

North Bay

A solo vehicle crash was reported on southbound Hwy 101 just south of Bridge Boulevard at about 4:10 a.m. Friday. A Chevy Impala was found on its roof about 100 feet off the roadway and down a ravine. Two lanes were temporarily blocked for emergency crews. No information about the Impala driver's injuries was available, but an ambulance had been dispatched to the scene.

Peninsula

A Palo Alto man took his last drive early Saturday morning when his car smashed into a tree and a parked vehicle, claiming the young man's life, police said. The roadway was wet and slick as the man in his 20s drove south along Middlefield Road into Palo Alto at about 12:50 a.m., police said. His vehicle first struck a sign on the west side of the street, then slammed into a tree and ricocheted off a parked vehicle before coming to rest in the front yard of a home near the intersection of Middlefield Road and Hawthorne Avenue, according to police.

During the morning rush hour, a multiple vehicle accident occurred at the I-380 Hwy 101 interchange and tied up traffic.

In Palo Alto, police are looking to see if wet roads and speed were factors in a crash which left a white Mustang smashed beyond recognition. Officers say the 24-year-old male driver hit a telephone pole and a tree along San Antonio Road near Middlefield, just before 6:00 Friday morning. When police arrived they found the driver unconscious.

Flight delays

Flights were delayed by about 90 minutes during the day on Friday and up to two hours on Friday evening at San Francisco International Airport due to inclement weather.

Weather Advisories:

An urban and small stream flood advisory has been issued for Friday until 1:45 p.m. on Saturday. This will be for parts of the San Joaquin Valley, Carquinez Strait, and the delta. A wind advisory for much of the same area has also been issued. Gusts could reach up to 40 mph in the valley from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.


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