Second storm system rolls into Bay Area

January 21, 2012 12:34:09 AM PST
Both the rain and wind picked up across the Bay Area Friday as a second, larger storm system rolled into the region causing some flooding.

Yesterday's system has moved to the southeast and has already broken apart. Today's system moved in with wider, more moisture-laden clouds and a warm front brought in the first round of heavy rain this morning. Wind gusts could reach 20-30 mph. A cold front is moving in tonight with gusty winds and heavier/steadier rain. The steady rain will turn into showers overnight with temperatures mainly in the 40s. It will be dry tomorrow afternoon through Sunday morning.

It has not rained like this in quite some time and drivers may be caught unprepared for the dangers that will come with this series of storms. CHP officers say they are seeing more spinouts and fender benders than usual, which may be weather-related. Officers say as usual, the key is to slow down.

"Slow down, adequate following distance, good attitude, extra patience... so that you don't have to call one of me or my distinguished colleagues to come in and assist you because of a collision or spinout or something like that," said CHP spokesperson Sam Morgan.

Since the rain will stick around for a few more days, drivers should plan on taking care of a few maintenance items. Make sure tires have good tread and are properly inflated. Also, make sure window wipers and defrost systems are functioning properly.

It will be wet during the San Francisco 49ers game with the heaviest rain hitting Candlestick Park around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. The field was covered with a tarp earlier this week and will be taken off shortly before kickoff.

Minor flooding was seen in Mill Valley, the lowest point in Marin County, about two feet above sea level. The area near Highway 101 and Highway 1 is a chronic trouble area during winter, one that falls under the jurisdiction of several different agencies including Caltrans, Mill Valley, and Marin County Public Works.

Even though it floods early and often in the winter time, because it is in an unincorporated area, according to the county, it probably will not ever get fixed. "The fix is unfixable really," Jeri Stewart with Marin County Public Works told ABC7. "The solution is just to be forewarned and have the information that's available to us. And, information says when it's high tide and we have a heavy amount of rain, it's going to be an area that will cause a problem."

The rain is good news for local water districts. The current series of weather fronts represent the first significant rainfall in the Bay Area in two months including that which fell overnight Thursday. By 4 p.m. Friday, the Marin Municipal Water District had measured just over 10 inches of rain, about one-third the amount measured this time last year. Still, there reservoir storage is at 71 percent of capacity, just under the average for this time of year.

Marty Grimes of the Santa Clara Valley Water District told ABC7, "We are certainly glad that it looks like winter is finally beginning, but we have a lot of catching up to do. We expecting that the first part of this rain storm will just saturate the ground. We are not expecting that it will produce a lot of runoff into our reservoirs because the ground is so dry."

By Friday evening, it was starting to snow with a vengeance around Lake Tahoe. Plenty of snow was sticking on the roadsides, but many still wonder if the storm will help ski resorts. The first of three storms to hit the Sierra Nevada was a bit of a disappointment. From the Lake Tahoe basin in the north to Mammoth Mountain in the south, just a few inches fell overnight Thursday. The last notable snowfall was in early November.

This second storm, though, is supposed to pack a punch. For area businesses, the new snow is just what they were hoping for. They saw the usually lucrative Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays pass by painstakingly slow. No snow meant no customers, leaving workers with little to do but pray.

"This year has been so dry all the way around. It's been pretty brutal," said Kyle Voorhees at Tahoe Dave's Rentals.

Ski resorts have been surviving on man-made snow. Boreal Mountain Resort produced the most snow it has ever made in a season, 32 million gallons. To get the real stuff would be more enjoyable, but businesses are now wondering if these desperately-needed storms might be too late to turn things around.

"It's so late in the season," Voorhees told ABC7. "It's kind of a gray area, whether more people are going to show up. Word's out that we've have a tough season already. Hoping more people are coming."

Two to four inches of snow are expected to fall every hour through Saturday morning. Some forecasts predict that high pressure could be moving back in next week, which means it could be dry and sunny again by Tuesday.

Ama Daetz, Amy Hollyfield, Katie Marzullo, Laura Anthony and Nanette Miranda contributed to this story.