Storm-toppled tree crushes gas station awning


It was both a stroke of bad luck and good luck. Fortunately there was neither car nor customer underneath the awning when it fell around 3:30 p.m.

It all happened when a strong rainstorm blew through. The fire department says it appears a large branch from a nearby ficus tree broke off and landed on the canopy that was covering the pumps. The branch also smashed through the back window of a car parked on Potrero.

The gas station clerk hit the automatic shut-off valve and turned off power to the pumps, "I heard something and I saw the tree fall down, the canopy fell down," gas station clerk Bobby Gurung said.

Car owner Nicole Thomas added, "Oh I thank god, cause she was in the car last night. I'm thanking god none of us got killed because we were sitting in the car last night."

Thomas said her car broke down Friday night and had to be pushed to the curb while she waited for a mechanic to try to fix it. Now she doesn't know who's responsible when she files the insurance claim -- the gas station or perhaps the city.

Weather causing problems for holiday travelers

The weather is causing problems for people heading into and out of town for the holiday.

Travelers faced delays all day long at San Francisco International Airport. The unsettled weather and scattered showers caused a change in wind direction that prompted SFO to redirect landing and takeoff patterns.

"We will cut back from 60 to 25 landings," SFO Duty Manager Lily Wang said. "So that is a big number." She says that also includes departures.

The flight information board showed only a few flights either arriving or leaving on time. Not good news to traveler Gretchen Wengenroth who said she needed to catch a connecting flight, "We have an hour delay so we were supposed to leave at two and we're leaving at three. We're supposed to fly into Chicago. We'll have about 10 minutes to catch our flight."

Wang says they tried to keep delays at 45 minutes but that didn't last long, "We held at 45 minutes for a long time, almost all morning, and then the sky is getting dark so we increased it to an hour."

Wayne Masters was trying to get back to San Diego. He says the rain meant a longer delay," My flight was supposed to leave at one, it's now 2:10 p.m. and I've been in this line for half an hour."

With more rain falling, the delays are expected to continue. Wang says about 100,000 people will travel through SFO all day Saturday. And Sunday will see more last minute travelers at local airports. If you plan to catch a flight in the next few days, check out our Flight Tracker, which will let you know about any flight delays or cancellations.

Heavy rains blamed for accidents, road closures

Heavy rains were blamed for accidents, floods, and road closures on Saturday morning.

The storm also caused a few major power outages in the Bay Area. As of 7:35 p.m., 250 homes in the North Bay were without power, 140 in the South Bay, 40 in San Francisco, 30 along the Peninsula, and 20 in the East Bay.

The storm began as a heavy rain, pushed by gusty winds that sent the rain horizontally around 6 a.m. in San Mateo. An hour later, along with the light of day, came a break. But that was only temporary.

On Highway 17 in Los Gatos the rain picked up, but the cars weren't slowing down.

In San Jose, the relentless rain flooded the meridian onramp to southbound 280, closing it for nearly three hours.

Crews had it cleared by 9:30 a.m., but nearby, the worst effect of the early storm was happening at that same time. A driver going too fast for the slick conditions skidded across five lanes of northbound I-280, crashing into another car.

One landed down the embankment on its roof while the other went halfway down the embankment and landed on its side. Surprisingly, even to the first responders, no one was seriously hurt.

"Luckily everyone in the collision was wearing their seat belts and, when they're not in situations like this, we often see ejections and major major injuries, and today, luckily, just minor complaints of pain," CHP Officer Jared Strubeck said.

Drivers across the Bay Area agree, in weather like this, defensive driving is the key to staying safe.

"People are still driving fast, but you just have to watch out for them, and try to just slow down a little bit and just try to anticipate the worst of what other people may do when they hit puddles or something," Foster City resident Jory Stein said.

Redwood City resident Brian Yu added, "I think people should slow down like 10 miles per hour when it's wet inside." When asked if he's slowing down, Yu answered, "Of course, I have a baby in the car, so of course."

Forecasters say as one storm system moves through the region Saturday, a second system is expected to hit the area Sunday.

With steady rain expected through Saturday, and heavy to moderate rain for Sunday, the National Weather Service has issued a "hazardous weather outlook" for the San Francisco Bay Area.

Along the coast, waves up to 16 feet are expected. Forecasters are urging people walking along beaches or jetties to watch for large breaking waves. In the mountains, heavy snow is expected Saturday and Sunday, with up to four feet predicted to fall in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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