Storm hits Bay Area, more wet weather to come

The rainy weather may have also contributed to a fatal crash on I-680 in Concord.
March 14, 2012 12:42:36 AM PDT
After a mostly dry winter, rain finally came to the Bay Area Tuesday, bringing with it slick roadways, fallen tree branches and downed power lines.

The California Highway Patrol says the first of several days of wet weather expected kept them especially busy as people readjust to driving on slick roadways. One woman went to the hospital after an accident on southbound Highway 101 at the Golden Gate Bridge which backed up traffic for miles during the Tuesday morning commute. There were also accidents on Highway 121 in Sonoma County, on I-680 in Walnut Creek and on the San Mateo Bridge.

The rainy weather may have also contributed to a fatal crash on I-680 in Concord near the Willows Shopping Center. Witnesses say a white van fishtailed before sailing off the northbound onramp into a power pole. The driver was partially ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.

"Obviously it is raining out here; it definitely could be a factor," CHP Deputy Franco Dalao said. "This is a great opportunity just to remind drivers out there to slow down. Pay attention to how we're steering out there, to our surroundings."

While parts of the Bay Area saw only sprinkles, the Santa Cruz Mountains took a heavy hit of rain. Residents there prepared for flooding and potential mudslides.

It had gone so long without rain that the hardware store in Ben Lomond had moved on to spring.

"With the nice weather the last couple of weeks, we've been putting the rain gear away and bringing out all of our springtime projects," Glenn Ullom of Scarborough Lumber said.

Shelves were quickly restocked with ponchos and tarps. Down another aisle, batteries were ready for the usual power outages when storm-force winds bring down power lines.

Four inches of rain are expected to fall in the Santa Cruz Mountains this week

In Marin County, the rain made for a wet, cold night for a hiker on Mt. Tamalpais. The man became disoriented, lost his pack and had to spend the night on the mountain before being able to contact a search and rescue team Tuesday morning via cellphone.

By the evening there was some minor flooding in the North Bay. An Oak tree fell onto a man's house in Healdsburg on South Fitch Mountain Road around 3 p.m. And late Tuesday night a tree fell across Highway 9 at Sanborn Road in Santa Clara County. There's no word on when that tree may be removed and the road will be clear.

Strong winds also knocked tree limbs onto a string of power lines at just north of Lake Merritt in Oakland.

Even with the consecutive days of rain expected, the Bay Area totals will likely still be well below average for this time of year.

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Laura Anthony, Wayne Freedman and David Louie contributed to this report.

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