Marin takes brunt of rain
The storm did not fully hit Marin County until midmorning, but when it did arrive, it was strong, steady, and saturating. But this is just the first of three storms expected to pass through in the coming days. At Pini's Hardware in Novato, there was a run on rain gear and tarps as the first system approached.
"Over the last couple of days everyone's been pretty much preparing themselves between the tarps and the raingear and the plastic and stuff like that," Russ Young said. "Everybody's needing something to cover their roof, patio furniture, product outside, wood, stuff like that. It's been pretty chaotic."
When the rain let up Wednesday afternoon, people seized upon the opportunity to stock up on sand bags.
The most dangerous aspect of the first storm has been the roads. California Highway Patrol officials in Sonoma County reported 16 traffic collisions beginning with the arrival of the rain around 6 a.m., twice the normal number. At one point in the morning, officials shut down one northbound lane of Highway 101 just before Sir Francis Drake Boulevard because of standing water. "The highway is treacherous," motorist Katie Von Der Werth told ABC7 News. "It's very bad, very windy, very bad."
With a creek cutting through downtown, San Anselmo has had several major floods. Some businesses now have flood gates that lock in place to keep the water out. But Wednesday, a few of them had only sand bags set aside.
Emergency officials say they are not really worried about Wednesday's storm. It's the next few days that are making them nervous. The Marin County Department of Public Works will have crews on standby. The main concern is for any fallen trees because of the saturated ground. They are also worried about people who haven't prepared. They say that with rain this heavy and a couple storms still on the horizon, problems aren't a matter of if, but when.
"The most concern is for our citizens and to make sure that they know what to do and when they're without any kind of power, they're pretty stranded, and communications is the number one thing for us, to be able to ensure that people can communicate," Marin County Emergency Coordinator Ursula Hanks said.
Rain makes for slow South Bay commute
The rain made for sloppy driving in the South Bay. The fog and heavy rain on Highway 17 was so treacherous during the morning commute that some drivers decided to wait it out.
"I stopped over here because the rain is heavy and driving hillside especially," Angel Zmoeta said.
The CHP tried to minimize problems by running traffic breaks to keep cars going at a slow and steady pace.
"Hydroplaning can result from driving too fast and your breaking time greatly increase dos we're trying to slow people down," Ofc. Sarah Jackson said.
On Highway 9 in the heart of San Lorenzo Valley, it couldn't get any slower. The wild weather knocked a tree into a power line and the downed wires backed up traffic for miles.
Weather slows arrivals at SFO
Strong winds caused problems at San Francisco International Airport Wednesday morning. There were only a few flight delays of 15-30 minutes, but more than 60 flights had been cancelled by 11 a.m., mostly short haul flights up and down the West Coast. The Federal Aviation Administration implemented its flow-control program for SFO because of the weather, slowing the rate of arrivals.
SF officials close Great Highway
Strong winds sent sand blowing across the Great Highway all day Wednesday. The city decided the conditions were too dangerous. Drivers are not allowed to travel in either direction between Lincoln Way and Sloat Boulevard.
They have not said when it will be open again.
Crews work to avoid flooding in the Mission District
Whenever there's heavy rain in San Francisco, there are complaints of water backing up in the Mission District.
As a precaution Wednesday, city workers brought in sandbags to protect businesses and homes.
The neighborhood is a former lagoon, so rainwater runs down from other neighborhoods.
The city offers people 10 sandbags a piece, to protect their property.