Most powerful storm in years hits Bay Area

January 4, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A monster storm slammed into the Bay Area on Friday, bringing tropical storm strength winds that snarled traffic and caused power outages for hours.

The constant rain triggered a mudslide in the Oakland hills and threatened at least one home, prompting an evacuation. Details from ABC7's Pamela Tom.

Storm Watch: Team Coverage

  • Click here to read ABC7's Tomas Roman's coverage of the people rescued from the Guadalupe River.
  • Click here ABC7's David Louie's report on the conditions on the Peninsula.
  • Click here to read Michael Finney's 7 On Your Side report on who is responsible for storm damages.
  • Click here to read ABC7's Heather Ishimaru's report on the road conditions in the Bay Area.
  • Click here to read ABC7's Don Sanchez' report on the conditions in the North Bay.
  • Click here to read ABC7's Tomas Roman's report on the conditions on the South Bay.
  • Click here to read ABC7's Vic Lee's report on the conditions at SFO.
  • Click here to read ABC7's Karina Rusk's report on the conditions on the Santa Cruz Mountains.

    Power outages

    The gusting winds knocked down trees and power lines. The storm caused outages to hundreds of thousands of people. The latest number from PG&E has over 200,000 customers affected.

    PG&E spokesman David Eisenhauer said 26 percent of 521,000 customers affected by outages in the Bay Area had their power restored.

    He said 1.2 million customers were impacted within PG&E's service area in Northern and Central California. Twenty-two percent of those customers have had their power restored, Eisenhauer said.

    PG&E said 58,000 customers in San Francisco lost power.

    It may be several days before power is restored to some of the 1.2 million customers and customers may lose power again depending on the severity of the storm expected this weekend, PG&E said.

    Customers may call 1-800-PGE-5002 to report an outage and get updates on power restoration in their area.

    Traffic problems

    Both directions of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge were closed for storm related problems today.

    The San Mateo Bridge eastbound was also closed earlier.

    The drenching rain combined with the high tide in San Francisco to flood part of the Embarcadero along the waterfront.

    In the North Bay, downtown Healdsburg flooded. Highway 101 near Lucky Drive also flooded Authorities are keeping an eye on streams and advising residents to check on neighbors. They are also providing sandbags for those who need them.

    High surf advisory

    A high surf advisory is also in effect until 10 am Sunday morning. Waves could reach as high as 15-feet today; 28 feet on Saturday. The weather service says coastal flooding is possible, especially during high tides.

    Emergency centers

    Governor Schwarzenegger has activated the state emergency centers in Los Alamitos and Sacramento today. State and federal officials are also deploying flood teams across the state to monitor potential problems as the rain continues throughout the next few days.

    Hurricane force winds

    "This is the monster storm, the second of three," said forecaster Steve Anderson.

    A flash flood warning is in effect for Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, while a high wind warning has been issued for the rest of the Bay Area.

    Anderson said hurricane-force winds up to 84 mph were recorded on Angel Island, 80 mph in the hills near Lucas Valley Road in Marin County, and 74 mph on Mt. Diablo. Winds up to 70 mph lashed the Golden Gate Bridge, he said. Heavy winds were also recorded in the Oakland hills, in downtown San Francisco and in San Jose.

    In the past 24 hours, the North Bay has received 3 to 8 inches of rain, with 2 to 4 inches of rain in San Francisco, the East Bay and the South Bay, according to Anderson. Ten inches of rain have been recorded in the Loma Prieta area of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

    Anderson said that by about 1 p.m., a cold front had moved through the area of San Francisco International Airport. By 2 p.m. it was making its way through the South Bay and was expected to leave the Bay Area by 4 p.m., he said.

    After that, high winds will decrease and heavy rain will taper off, though gusty winds and showers will remain throughout the afternoon and into the evening, according to Anderson.

    Scattered showers and lower winds are expected Saturday morning before the third storm moves into the Bay Area on Sunday.

    "The last one due in on Sunday morning will be quite tame, compared to this," Anderson said.

    When the third storm passes, the greater Bay Area will have received about 3 to 5 inches of rain total, and 6 to 10 inches in the mountain areas, according to Anderson.

    "I would say it's the strongest storm we've seen in the past two years," Anderson said.

    Bay Area severe weather resources
    Click here for Information on sandbag pick-up locations, flood trackers, river gauges, flood preparedness, hotlines and emergency resources.

    The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report