Rain causes accidents, flight delays in Bay Area

Last month, Marin's water supply was pretty grim, but with the recent storm, the situation is improving.
March 1, 2014 5:36:59 PM PST
The wet weather caused problems for Bay Area travelers Saturday morning.

Several delays and cancellations were reported at San Francisco International Airport.

Officials say arriving flights were delayed an average of one hour and 22 minutes due to the weather and wind.

Oakland and San Jose airports both reported five delays.

The rainy conditions have also caused power outages throughout the Bay Area. PG&E crews are working to restore service to over 100 customers throughout the region.

The rain wreaked havoc on the commute Friday night.

A driver in a white Ford Focus slid off the road on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains. And a BMW lost control and slammed into the guardrail.

CHP officers had to shut down some lanes while they moved that car off the highway.

The worst and wettest spot in Marin County on Friday was the Manzanita Park & Ride at the Highway 101 Stinson Beach exit in Mill Valley, where a car got stuck in the middle of the flooded intersection.

And a flooded freeway underpass made a mess of Friday morning's commute in the South Bay. ABC7 News learned that that flooding was the result of a criminal act.

Caltrans workers used giant hoses hooked up to big portable pumps to drain the veritable lake of rainwater that closed down Highway 87.

It wasn't aging equipment or Mother Nature to blame for the mess. Instead, officials say it was common criminals looking to make a buck.

"The copper wire thieves struck at about 4 a.m. and they stole about 4,000 feet worth of wire," Caltrans spokesperson Bob Haus said.

It's the very wire that powers the pumps that drain that underpass every time it rains. The pumps are in windowless concrete buildings, atop a steep ridge, down a private road, with a locked gate. But that didn't stop the thieves.

Caltrans says it's working with police and is fortifying its infrastructure, though Haus didn't want to give specifics.

The storm spared Santa Cruz Mountain communities from mudslides and major flooding, but repair crews were still out in full force.

AT&T, PG&E, and fire agencies were standing by all Friday to handle emergencies as they come up because of the storms. One of the biggest problems in Santa Cruz Mountain communities has been trees falling, especially along ridge tops.

The storm brought down trees, blocking Bonny Doon Road in two spots. Crews moved in and cut up the trees to give way to traffic.

Tree services were also out in force to trim branches that might bring down power lines.

PG&E deployed emergency response teams to roll to outages and to restore service.

Even though the storm caused a lot of problems throughout much of the region, it was a welcome sight since we're in desperate need for rain.

A lot of water rushed through Marin County, much of it moving down hillside streams.

An astounding amount of water flowed down a spillway into Alpine Lake from Bon Tempe Dam and is now completely full. Last month, Marin's water supply was looking desperate.

"The water situation is much better than it was one month ago. We had 20 inches of rain in February. The average is 9 inches," Marin Municipal Water District spokesperson Libby Pischel said.

Pischel says that's not a record, but it's the most rain Marin has seen in one month in 20 years.

"It's amazing, I'm glad the rain finally came," Pischel said.

John Kitchens and his son Rex drove up from Fairfax to check out the reservoirs spilling over.

"I think it's quite amazing considering all the lakes were so dry lately," Kitchens said.

Last December, The Nicasio Reservoir looked more like a desert. Since then, Marin's water supply has gone from 40 percent to 70 percent of normal.

Cornell: "Does this mean the drought is over in Marin County?"

"Well, we're still asking our customers to cut back their usage by 25 percent," Pischel said.

Water officials will reassess its water needs in April. But for now, they're thankful for brand new supply.

(ABC7 News reporters Wayne Freedman, Jonathan Bloom, Sergio Quintana, David Louie, Amy Hollyfield and Cornell Barnard contributed to this report)

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