Storm topples trees and disrupts flights

December 22, 2012 12:23:12 AM PST
A little bit of everything could be found in the North Bay on Friday ? rain, wind, fog, hail. And in the midst of it all, we met some very fortunate people when all was said and done.

Inverness residents Michelle Pelton and her husband Ted were on the wrong end of a large tree that crashed through their carport, their cars, and nearly them. They were inside when it fell. Michelle notes, "There was no warning at all."

The Pelton's blame wet soil and a shallow root system. They're worried because about 10 trees have fallen among homes in the neighborhood in the past few years. And another, just above their house, is leaning in the wrong direction.

Meanwhile, just outside the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens in Santa Rosa, it wasn't the rose petals causing the problems, it was tree leaves coupled with rain. Employee Rachel Spaeth didn't use a rake to boot those leaves out, explaining, "Today I used my foot, yes, because I just came in and unlocked the gates and it just happened to be the first thing I did before I even unlocked the shed."

Just down the block at the Busy Brown House Childcare children said they were prepared with rain boots, jackets and umbrellas. And though kids know what to wear when it's raining, but Papa Bear says they won't need any of that today, "We have a great playground out back for the kids, but today it's an indoor event, we're going to have an indoor Christmas party with the kids."

One of the children's grandfathers tells ABC7 he drove here from Healdsburg through some of the fiercest rain he's seen, "I'm not a usual 45 to 50 miles per hour guy, but today it was so bad, it was that way," Healdsburg resident Glen Sirchuk said.

In Petaluma rain was a big topic, "I love the rain, it cleans the air," Petaluma resident Donna Ball said.

Storm impacts fishermen, surfers along Peninsula

The dangerous waves and high surf advisory did not scare off the few surfers at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica. It was a risky afternoon right in the middle of the chop. And these guys took a beating.

Several miles south in Half Moon Bay, crab fisherman wouldn't go near the open seas. The gale warning flag told them all they needed to know, "I don't even want to go to the fuel dock," crab fisherman Rob Kraencke said. "Everyone's in port." That's not to say the storm completely stopped commerce. Kraencke sold crab off his boat for five dollars a pound, "I've got some crabs, I have for them."

Fellow crab fisherman Zach Madding added, "Probably a couple thousand dollars I've lost. It is what it is. Either I take a break now or take a break next week."

In Pacifica, sand bags are available for residents who live in flood-prone neighborhoods. It was quiet Friday, but is expected to pick up the Saturday after the next round of rain.

Heavy flooding prompts Hwy 1 closure in Marin County

On the Marin County coast, heavy flooding has closed Highway 1 in both directions. Caltrans tells us the highway will remain closed until the water recedes -- whenever that might be.

Massive sinkhole opens up on Hwy 162

A trucker driving on Highway 162 in Mendocino County escaped injury after a huge chunk of the road gave way underneath his big rig. The truck lost an axle in the sinkhole and the cab broke away from the trailer.

Crews are now at the scene to repair the massive 20-by-25 foot sinkhole, but a portion of the highway near Covelo is closed indefinitely and traffic is being re-routed.

Storm causes flight delays, cancellations at SFO

The storm caused major problems Friday morning at SFO on what's supposed to be the airport's busiest travel day of the year. Dozens of flights were cancelled. Others were delayed, and travelers are fuming.

Before it even started raining the FAA decided to reduce the number of flights in and out of SFO because of the low cloud cover and the forecast for rain. That's when airlines started cancelling flights.

"I thought it was going to rain so we left early, but it was nice, beautiful when we came down," said Betty Prader. She was shocked when she heard her flight was cancelled. The weather seemed clear when she arrived at the airport so she let her son drive away, leaving her alone at SFO, "I got here at 5 a.m. and I've been here ever since. Yup, so they put me on standby at 12 p.m., but I don't know. So if not, I'll have to wait until 5 p.m. this afternoon."

On Friday morning, airport officials said there'd been been 50 cancellations and countless delays, mostly regional flights because of the winds gusting out of the south, along with the rain and low cloud cover. They called it early so they airlines could start adjusting, "So they put a plan in place in advance of actual rainfall to cope with the fact that we're going to be able to land less aircrafts per hour than we usually do on a sunny day," SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel said.

This comes on one of the busiest day travel days of the holiday seasons and after other airports across the country have had delays because of snowstorms. This has left many passengers feeling quite grumpy. One traveler told us, "This is decreasing my visit of a week by a day and that's unfortunate because I don't see my sister that often.

Another person added, "I'm tired and I've been wearing the same clothes for the past three days."


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