SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The first of a series of storms from an atmospheric river hit the San Francisco Bay Area Thursday flooding roadways, toppling trees and causing power outages.
The National Weather Service reported that the Sonoma County Airport saw 2.26 inches of rain in a six-hour period from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and more is on the way.
Friday's storm is Level 3 on the ABC7 Exclusive Storm Impact Scale. The threat for roadway flooding and stream flooding will be highest on Friday morning across the Bay Area.
RELATED: Here's what to expect for Level 3 storm Thursday and Friday
Here are number of customers impacted, as of 11 p.m. Thursday:
- East Bay:259
- North Bay: 899
- South Bay: 3,274
- San Francisco:171
Flooding on Hwy. 12 in Santa Rosa
Highway 12 near Stony Point Road and several other streets in Santa Rosa are closed due to flooding, Santa Rosa fire tweeted.
Cars stuck in floodwaters in North Bay; saturated soil a concern
In the North Bay, cars stuck on flooded roads kept many first responders busy Thursday night.
"We were initially concerned with the rainfall intensities that were projected as well as the winds. For us, with how saturated our soils are, we are a lot more concerned, at least here locally, with what damage could potentially be done," says Division Chief Paul Lowenthal, with the Santa Rosa Fire Department.
He says Thursday didn't have many downed trees or power lines. Most of the evening was just steady rain and a number of flooded streets. But he adds, the potential for bigger issues is always a big concern.
"We are still at risk with our Glass Fire. The Glass Fire burn scar from 2020 has not regrown like it should have. So, the water tends to come off that hill a lot more rapidly than it does most of our hillsides," explains Lowenthal.
That water then quickly fills up the Santa Rosa Creek, which in turn can back up the tributary creeks.
"And that's what's keeping out street crews very busy tonight. Dealing with a lot of backup, a lot of storm drains that can't flow, and resulting in a lot of flooded out road ways," says Chief Lowenthal.
In Forestville, two cars got stuck and required passengers to be rescued. No one was injured. But it's another example of problems due to flooding.
Trevor McCal delivers auto parts. There is no brake in his schedule. He had to deal with the heavy rain on the freeway. And he'll be back out again on Friday.
"We have some of our routes that have been canceled because of snow and down trees. But I have to go to the East Bay, Oakland, San Leandro, and it's crappy out there. But nothing you can do," says McCal.
"(It's been) horrible. I could barely see on the freeway. I just drove back from Petaluma. And it's outrageous," says Shelby Wilcox, as she described the evening commute.
She was also stuck in traffic and the rain during her commute from Petaluma to Santa Rosa. She does deliveries, so she will be out most of the overnight.
"Rain or shine, I will be stuck in the weather. Hopefully, it doesn't get any worse," says Wilcox.
Chief Lowenthal wants to remind residents to survey their property on Friday when the rain stops. He says it is important to clear out storm drains to keep things moving, and make things are in good shape ahead of the next storm.
South Bay braces for intense rain, strong wind
As the rain and winds pick up around the region, so too are efforts to keep floodwaters from causing the same widespread damage suffered in Jan.
Back then, SKY7 gave us an overhead view of the major flooding along Highway 101 in Gilroy. Many witnessed a home and family-owned farm submerged in that storm. On Thursday, entire structures can be seen from a distance.
VIDEO: Homes, highway in Gilroy hit by major flooding
Although The Garlic Shoppe, located just across the freeway from the properties, was untouched by floodwater then, co-owner Alex Larson said they aren't taking any chances.
"Probably going to have everybody come over tonight and we'll lift everything up off the ground again, to make sure that we're four feet off the ground. So that we don't have any product that's going to get ruined if anything does happen."
Valley Water officials warned south county is likely to see some significant rain overnight Thursday and into early morning hours on Friday.
Matt Keller with Valley Water said, "We're keeping an eye on the possibility that maybe Highway 101 could flood just like we saw in January. We're hopeful that it won't, but it's better to be prepared."
County officials are urging people to be mindful of their surroundings, obey flooding signs, and follow the direction of safety professionals as many of us have had front row seats to the power of recent storms.
Newsom requests Presidential Emergency Declaration to support storm response
Gov. Gavin Newsom requested a Presidential Emergency Declaration Thursday to authorize federal assistance to support state and local resources as an atmospheric river pummels the state.
"California is deploying every tool we have to protect communities from the relentless and deadly storms battering our state," said Governor Newsom. "In these dangerous and challenging conditions, it is crucial that Californians remain vigilant and follow all guidance from local emergency responders."
If the declaration is approved it will enable impacted counties to immediately access Direct Federal Assistance to help protect public safety and property. The request for Direct Federal Assistance includes generators, road clearance equipment and potential sheltering and mass care assistance.
Newsom announced a state of emergency in 21 counties Wednesday which included San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey.
1 injured after tree falls on car in San Mateo County
One person was injured after a tree fell on the Tesla they were riding in Thursday night in San Mateo County, according to the California Highway Patrol.
CHP says officers responded to the scene just before 7 p.m. on Skyline Boulevard just south of Old La Honda Road.
Two people were traveling inside the Tesla when the tree fell on the vehicle. One of them suffered injuries to their leg and was taken to the hospital.
CHP says at this time Skyline Boulevard is shut down due to the large tree blocking all lanes.
Large tree blocking 2 NB lanes on I-280 in San Bruno
A large tree is blocking two lanes of northbound I-280 in San Bruno just south of the Crystal Springs on-ramp. The CHP say emergency crews are en route to remove the tree and drivers are urged to proceed with caution.
Reports of flooding, mudslide on Crow Canyon Road in Castro Valley
The California Highway Patrol tweeted Thursday night there are reports of flooding and a mudslide on Crow Canyon Road in Castro Valley. They are urging drivers to use caution.
North Bay first responders brace for flooding, water rescues
In the North Bay, residents and first responders are bracing for the real possibility of flooding across the region from the storm.
Sonoma County firefighters are pulling water rescue craft out of storage in Forestville which will likely be needed as the storm river intensifies and levels on the Russian River rise.
"Our big message to people is if you don't have to be out don't be out, don't. Don't drive through standing water, you don't know how deep it is," said Sonoma County Fire Division Chief Cyndi Foreman.
Tragically, a woman lost her life in Sonoma County last January when she was trapped in her car by floodwater.
The fire district is up staffing crew for the storm, opening its district operations center to help monitor trouble spots, as they did two months ago during severe storms.
"We will see significant rain in the next 72 hours," Foreman added.
Residents were filling last-minute sandbags to protect homes and garages, but his real worry is about flooded roads.
5 taken to hospital after multi-vehicle weather-related accident in Walnut Creek
At least five people were taken to the hospital after an accident involving a county bus in Walnut Creek on Thursday evening. Fire officials say the injuries range from critical to moderate and 10 patients were evaluated on the bus. They say the cause appears to be a vehicle exiting the freeway too fast "for the weather."
SJ mayor joins 311 team to highlight importance of calling for storm cleanup to prevent flooding
To celebrate 311 Day this weekend and the valuable city resource, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan popped on a headset in the 311 call center to answer some calls for non-emergency service in the city. He was then dispatched out into the field to help out crews on their various calls, including helping clean up gutters and storm drains with another storm setting in on the region.
"During the storm, as residents see trees and branches down, see storm drains backing up, or other things that don't look right during the storm, 311 is a great place to go," Mayor Mahan said.
The governor declared a state of emergency for Santa Clara County Thursday, while San Jose city leaders said their own state of emergency is ongoing to provide aid as needed. Valley Water crews have been hard at work clearing out creeks as flood risk still remains high, especially to San Jose's south. One of the best ways to do your part is reporting storm drain clean up on 311 to help the Department of Transportation prevent flooding.
"We've gone through and cleaned those out, many of them two or even three times at this point due to all the rain that we've had this season," SJ Dept. of Transportation PIO Colin Heyne said. "We've got crews monitoring calls from residents right now and in their free time, if they have any, they are clearing leaves and other debris."
Critical work during what is expected to be a serious storm.
Napa County under Flood Watch from March 9-12
Napa County sent an alert that it is under a Flood Watch from Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning.
"This weather event is expected to bring winds, heavy rain, flooding, and increased potential for power outages. Due to very saturated soils, even winds on the lower end of the speed range can cause downed trees. When trees fall, this can be a threat to lives, cause power outages, and add debris to our roadways," officials said in the alert.
Residents are asked to please continue to exercise caution when on the road. If you see a downed or sagging power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it, stay clear of the area, call 911 and PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
San Francisco extends hours for sandbag distribution
San Francisco Public Works said that it would be extending its hours of distribution for sandbags to 5 p.m. for residents due to the pending atmospheric river.
Residents and businesses can receive up to 10 free sandbags from the city, which can be picked up at the operations yard on Kansas and Marin streets.
More info can be found at sfpublicworks.org/sandbags.
Areas of Santa Cruz County under evacuation warning
Due to likely flooding, the following areas of Santa Cruz County are under evacuation warning:
- Felton Grove
- Paradise Park
- Soquel Village
- Rio Del Mar Flats
- areas along Corralitos Creek, including the College-Lake-Holohan area
County officials say that "if you flooded in January, you are likely to flood again. Please be prepared to leave if necessary. This is a warning not an order, but leave now if you feel unsafe."
Residents can look up their zone at community.zonehaven.com.
South Bay crews, residents prepare for flooding
All eyes are looking towards the sky Thursday morning, to see when the next atmospheric river will roll in.
"If it stalls over us and we get a lot more rain than expected or anticipated, we could see some local creeks and rivers impacted," Matt Keller, a spokesman for Valley Water said.
Valley Water crews spreading out across the region to keep these creeks like the Alma Creek flowing, making sure there are no blockages causing a back-up and gearing up in hopes to avoid a repeat of January's storm.
"If there's a possibility you've seen in the past that flooding is happening around your home, or there's some low lying areas where storm drains get backed up, go get those sandbags today," Keller said. "You don't want to be shoveling sand when the rain's coming down."
Lessons learned from the last major storm at the start of year, folks across San Jose weren't taking any chances this time around, picking up sandbags at five different locations across Santa Clara County.
"Storm drains just clog, especially in a more populated city, the more people, the more traffic, the more debris that we have to get into those storm drains," Colin Hayne, a spokesman for the City of San Jose's Department of Transportation said.
With 35,000 storm drains spread out across San Jose, some of which, still being cleaned out from the last storm, the city's Department of Transportation has crews spread out 24/7 working to help respond to calls of ponding near drains.
"So as soon as you see that ponding happening, in a storm inlet, give us a call, our crews are out there just cleaning these drains all day long, they're pretty quick, sometimes even the sidewalk gets flooded and we want those areas clear for people to travel safely," Hayne said.
And knowing history could repeat itself from January, their crews are also bracing for the possibility of even more downed trees.
"Winds are forecasted and with the saturation in the soil, that makes it more likely for trees, weaker root systems to blow over, so just be alert really, that's all we can say right now," he said.
If you have a large tree in your yard, it is wise to keep an eye on it in this incoming storm and if you have time before it starts coming down, the city says it may be time to get it pruned.
If you see a power line with a tree resting on it or power lines down in the street, do not approach and instead, call 911.
Monterey County closing parks
Monterey County will close some of its parks ahead of a severe weather system set to arrive in the area Thursday and Friday.
Jacks Peak, Manzanita Park, Royal Oaks Park, San Lorenzo Park and Toro Park will be closed to protect the health and safety of visitors from the heavy rain and strong winds forecasted in the forthcoming storm, according to the county.
San Lorenzo Park RV Campground will remain open. Lakes San Antonio and Nacimiento will also remain open for camping and boating.
Governor Newsom declares storm state of emergency supporting 21 additional counties
Governor Gavin Newsom announced a state of emergency Wednesday to help California counties ahead of a severe winter storm this week.
The latest proclamation will help with disaster response and relief for 21 counties, including San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.
The state will be using all available resources to help residents impacted by the storm.
Road to Mt. Hamilton summit could reopen by Friday, Caltrans says
The snow covered summit of Mount Hamilton is home to about 30 resident staffers of the Lick Observatory. The peak was pummeled with a record amount of snow over several recent storms.
"Right now, we're still overwhelmed with snow. The official snow tally as of yesterday, since February 22, is 53 inches of snow on Mt. Hamilton," resident astronomer Dr. Elinor Gates said.
Thursday's incoming storm is creating additional concern, especially with strong winds and intense rain expected.
"We still have snow and ice in the way. So where's that water going to go? It's going to flood through our plowed drives and walkways. We might have ice dams, so it might end up going underneath shingles and leaking into houses."
She also points to the possibility of ice and snow sliding from the observatory's domes. It's movement that could be dangerous for anyone or anything below.
Still, resident astronomer Dr. Paul Lynam says there is some welcome news, including warmer temperatures and better timing.
"Not in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 SCU Complex Fire, which left a lot of burn scars," he described. "At least we've had a season or two for the ground to recover and some of the vegetation to regrow. That will hopefully minimize those slippages, those rock slides and mudslides potentially."
Currently, the road to the observatory has been closed to the public for weeks, with barricades manned by law enforcement. One passable lane has allowed emergency and maintenance vehicles, and resident staffers to venture up and down the mountain. Caltrans crews and others have been working around the clock to clear the roadway.
"The next two days the road could still be treacherous not necessarily through the snow but just by flooding, mudslides, rockslides and downed trees," Dr. Lynam said.
Dr. Gates added, "It wouldn't be surprising, in our remote location, to lose power for maybe many days again. But our generator, with the full diesel tank, we can go for about a week."
Caltrans officials said they're monitoring conditions. Ahead of the storm, they're working to clear ditches to prevent flooding, watching for downed trees, and looking out for slides.
"Since we've been looking and monitoring the weather forecasts, and with all the cleaning that we've been doing, we're looking forward to being open by Friday," Caltrans PIO for Santa Clara County Victor Gauthier said.
Danville residents prepare for more potential flooding
One neighbor could be seen moving her vehicle to higher ground. Everyone with vivid memories of El Capitan Drive flowing with water a couple of months ago.
"There was so much water coming down the street. There was actually an SUV floating down the street," said Danville resident Dia Mundle.
The neighborhood was hit especially hard during that atmospheric river as we began 2023, now another one is on the way.
"I think everybody in the neighborhood feels probably like the worst is over but now it looks like it may start all over again," said John Hughes of Danville.
John Hughes just finished redoing his front yard that was destroyed by all the mud from that storm, and now here we go again.
"It was really kind of scary. We had to be evacuated," said Hughes.
His family evacuated out their back door but both their cars that had been parked in their driveway were eventually totaled.
"We've been here since '75 and nothing close to it," said Hughes.
As to how those in the neighborhood are preparing now. Sandbags can be seen at at least two different houses, streets are now clear, and homes are working.
No chains required yet on I-80 and Highway 50 to Tahoe
There are no chain requirements in effect for either I-80 or Highway 50 heading to Tahoe as of Wednesday evening.
For the latest on road conditions, visit here.
Valley Water prepares in hopes to avoid flooding with 1st atmospheric river since Jan.
With an atmospheric river heading towards the Bay Area again, Valley Water is gearing up in hopes to avoid a repeat of January's storm. The Southern part of Santa Clara County is expected to get the most rain. Places like Morgan Hill and Gilroy saw serious flooding at the start of the year as well, so Valley Water has crews spreading out across the region to keep waters flowing.
"We hope that it's not going to be as bad, but in January, that one wasn't forecasted to be bad and it kind of just stalled over us," Valley Water spokesperson Meghan Azralon said. "So, we're taking those same precautions just in case. There's always a possibility that mother nature changes her mind."
Valley Water is also hard at work filling up sandbag locations across the South Bay as well. 4,200 bags were dropped off and quickly loaded up in Morgan Hill. Areas south of the county are forecasted to get more than two inches of rain leaving creek and stream flooding risks high.
Familiar with the risks that heavy rainfall can create, it's a constant state of preparation for some residents. They say when you see rain in the forecast, you don't get ready, you stay ready.
Danville issues storm safety advisory ahead of storm
Danville issued a storm safety advisory Wednesday afternoon, warning residents to be ready for wet weather that will likely start Thursday morning.
Town officials say the three main areas of concern are rain and increased winds generating flooding, downed trees, and loss of power. They ask residents to avoid unnecessary travel during the storms and, if they do drive, to avoid driving through flooded intersections.
They also ask residents to remove leaves or debris blocking storm drains to allow stormwater to flow through unobstructed into the stormwater system. Danville will offer a self-fill sandbag station for community use at 1000 Sherburne Hills Road. They ask residents to limit use to 20 sandbags per household.
To report clogged storm drains, downed trees, or flooding, call Danville maintenance services at (925) 314-3450, or after hours contact non-emergency dispatch at (925) 820-2144. Residents can also make reports online.
Vallejo warming shelter opens Thursday
The city of Vallejo is opening a warming shelter beginning Thursday in anticipation of extreme weather headed to the region.
The warming shelter will be open from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 505 Santa Clara St. on the backside of City Hall.
A limited number of blankets and pillows will be available, but participants are encouraged to bring their own. One small bag of personal items is also permitted.
Those seeking transportation to the shelter can get a free bus ride on SolTrans public transit by simply mentioning to the bus driver that they are traveling to or from the Vallejo warming shelter, a spokesperson for the city said.
RELATED: Yosemite National Park braces for flooding ahead of atmospheric river storm
Oakland urges residents to call 311 to report downed trees, flooding
Wind and lots of rain are expected in Oakland starting Thursday morning and city officials urge residents to prepare and even volunteer to prevent flooding.
Emergencies such as downed trees or limbs can be reported by calling 311 or (510) 615-5566. If it's challenging to get a hold of someone by calling 311, residents can call the Oakland Fire Department's non-emergency line at (510) 444-3322.
Other emergencies that can be reported to 311 include flooding, overflowing sewers and street signals that aren't working. Non-emergencies can be reported online.
City officials are asking residents to adopt a drain in their neighborhood to help prevent flooding. Public works crews are clearing storm inlets and many residents have adopted a drain, but many thousands of drains remain available for adoption. The city can give residents supplies such as rakes, brooms, dust pans, and bags.
Call (510) 238-7630 or go to the adopt-a-drain website to sign up.
Up to 10 free sandbags and up to 20 feet of plastic sheeting are available to each Oakland household while supplies last. Pick them up at the Municipal Service Center at 7101 Edgewater Drive Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monterey Co. distributing sandbags ahead of storm
Residents in unincorporated areas of Monterey County can pick up sandbags at several locations in the county ahead of another storm forecast to hit the Central Coast on Thursday and Friday.
Empty sandbags can be picked up at the following Cal Fire stations: Aromas, Big Sur, Cachagua, Cypress, Carmel Highlands and Greenfield, as well as stations in the North County Fire Protection District.
A complete list of sandbag locations can be found here. Bags can be filled at these locations.
For questions about sandbags, contact the Monterey County Public Works maintenance office at (831) 755-4925.
Residents in incorporated areas can pick up and fill bags at Fire Stations 11, 12 and 13 in the city of Monterey, the Vista Lobos community center in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and the Pacific Grove fire station.
RELATED: Is 2023 Bay Area's worst storm season? Here's what experts say
Winter Storm Watch to effect Thursday for Sierra Nevada
A Winter Storm Watch will be in effect Thursday through Sunday for heavy snow and gusty winds. Snow levels will be high, above 6,500 feet (that is roughly the elevation of Soda Springs on I-80, Phillips on Highway 50) where two to five feet of snow will fall. Gusts up to 80 mph are expected.
Flood Watch in effect from Thursday-Sunday for entire Bay Area
A Flood Watch is in effect from Thursday through Sunday for the entire Bay Area and the Central Coast. Lingering rain will continue into the weekend with additional widespread rainfall expected next week.
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Bay City News contributed to this report.
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