Live storm updates: Bay Area braces for weekend of rain, Tahoe area prepares for blizzard

ByABC7 Bay Area Digital Staff and Suzanne Phan, Cornell Barnard KGO logo
Thursday, February 29, 2024
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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- More rain and heavy downpours are hitting the Bay Area and heavy snow is expected in the Sierra. Here are the latest updates.

TIMELINE: Rain heading to Bay Area will last through weekend; snowstorm in Sierra

WATCH: Latest AccuWeather forecast

LIVE: Track rain in San Francisco Bay Area with Live Doppler 7


5:45 p.m. North Bay communities open cold weather shelters as rain approaches

North Bay communities are gearing up to help their most vulnerable populations stay warm and dry during the storm.

The approaching cold wet, weather has some North Bay communities gearing up to help their most vulnerable populations stay warm and dry during the storm.

"You can't stay out there all day long without a meal in your stomach," said Sam Ojebola.

Ojebola is making sure that about 100 of his unhoused clients are getting a hot lunch.

On a cold, rainy day like this Ojebola opened his Jesus Cares 2020 dining room in Santa Rosa about four hours earlier to keep folks dry.

"Because we are all human. Living outside when it's cold during this time and weather is not good for someone's health," Ojebola said.

Toby Reville is staying in a local shelter at night, but he can't stay there during the day, so he's on his own on the streets.

"I'm actually trying to get to a place where I can get a warm drink, coffee until I can go back there," Reville said.

A crew from FS Global Solutions was preparing a giant tent that will be heated and used as an overnight warming shelter in the town of Sonoma this weekend. The company provides outreach services to North Bay communities.

"Set up cots, bring coffee and hot drinks, water and food to try and give people a place where they can shelter from the storm," said Max Morell-Foege from FS Global Solutions.

"We are anticipating this weekend, based on the National Weather Service wind chill temps and wet weather, we want to make sure we have space to our vulnerable population," said Sonoma City Manager David Guhin.

Escaping the rain and cold is what Reville will try to do this weekend. He just relocated to Santa Rosa from Pennsylvania.

"My heart goes out to each and every homeless person. They really get the short end of the stick," Reville said.

5 p.m. Blizzard conditions expected to bump up Sierra snowpack, CA water supply levels

This weekend's blizzard is expected to bring an epic amount of snow to the Sierra, upping the snowpack levels for the state.

This weekend's blizzard is expected to bring an epic amount of snow to the Sierra and that is great for the snowpack.

On Thursday, the third snow survey of the year was conducted at Philips station.

State water officials talked about where California's snow and reservoir levels stand.

Marcus Shelksohn of San Francisco can't wait to head to Lake Tahoe to hit the slopes.

"Going skiing, snowboarding. Trying to get my daughter up to the snow for the first time," Shelksohn said.

Shelksohn and many others know this incoming storm will bring lots of fresh powder.

And that's great news for the Sierra snowpack.

Because of the big storm coming, officials decided to conduct the snow survey on Thursday -- a day early -- near Lake Tahoe.

"Our snow survey today, we recorded a depth of about 47.5 inches, about four feet we are standing on. And a snow water content of 18 inches. That's about a foot and a half," said Andy Reising, an engineer with California Department of Water Resources. "If you took 48 inches and melted it down, that's essentially 18 inches of liquid water."

In the afternoon, the CA Department of Water Resources announced that its statewide snow pack is currently 80% of normal for this time of year. Last month, the statewide snow pack was 52% of normal

On Jan. 1, the California Sierra snowpack was just 28% of normal.

State water experts say the approaching storm could bring the snow levels up to average.

That's important, because during the summer, melting snow flows into the state's water table and fills reservoirs around California.

The statewide Sierra snowpack makes up about a third California's water supply. The recent atmospheric river storms have really boosted snow and water levels.

According to the map we have tracking reservoir capacity, Lake Berryessa is at 92% capacity.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is at 90%.

"We are hoping to get some contributions to the snow pack from the storm that will bump that number," said Jeanine Jones, CA Department of Water Resources interstate resources manager.

Back to Marcus Shelksohn, he's just focused on one thing.

"Get ready to go for some deep snow," Shelksohn said.

4 p.m. Yosemite National Park announces closures amid Blizzard Warning

Yosemite National Park will be fully closed starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday due to the anticipated weather conditions.

Park officials say they will re-assess the situation at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

Full story here.

3 p.m. Oakland Zoo closing Friday due to weather

Oakland Zoo announced it would be closing Friday, March 1 due to wet weather conditions.

1 p.m. PG&E warns of potential power outages ahead of storm

PG&E is warning of potential power outages in the Bay Area as a storm moves through the region Thursday through Sunday with persistent rain, heavy wind and even a rare blizzard warning further inland.

Winds could reach speeds of between 30-40 mph on Thursday while rain will intensify into Friday and continue throughout the weekend. Between 1.5-2 inches are forecast for San Francisco.

Dalton Behringer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the rain will cause moderate soil saturation, but he did not anticipate as significant problems as past storms with tree uprooting.

PG&E is staging crews and equipment in advance of the storm to expedite any repair work that is needed, but the utility warned that residents in remote, elevated areas could face days without power.

Snow is forecast for elevations above 2,000 feet and a few inches are forecast for Mt. Diablo in Contra Costa County.

Road conditions in the Sierra foothills are expected to deteriorate rapidly on Friday as a blizzard warning is in effect from 4 a.m. Thursday to 10 a.m. Sunday. Driving conditions are forecast to be "nearly impossible," according to the Weather Service. Drivers are urged not to travel in the area. Closures are anticipated on Interstate Highway 80 and U.S. Highway 50.

A high surf advisory from the Weather Service is also in effect for coastal areas from 10 a.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Saturday. Waves between 15-20 feet are forecast from the North Bay down to the Central Coast.

"The west-facing beaches are going to see the worst, so people need to be careful going out there," said Behringer.

He reminded beachgoers to not turn their back to the water and to be aware that waves can gather and break faster than anticipated during high surf events.

PG&E has an updated outage map that can be accessed here.

PG&E also reminded the public to never touch downed wires, use flashlights rather than candles if power goes out in the home, and to have a portable charging device for a cellphone.

11 a.m. Blizzard warning in effect for Sierra Nevada

The National Weather Service said Thursday morning that a blizzard warning is in effect for areas above 2,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada east of Sacramento through Sunday.

Caltrans officials said just before 9 a.m. that chain controls are in effect on eastbound Interstate Highway 80 from Kingvale to Truckee and westbound from Truckee to Rainbow.

According to Caltrans, eastbound traffic on Highway 80 is being turned away at Kingvale and Drum Forebay in Placer County because of an overturned truck. Trucks are being turned back at Applegate. Caltrans officials said there is no estimated time of reopening.

Forecasters said conditions will begin to deteriorate quickly in the mountains Thursday afternoon, with high winds and heavy snow causing white-out conditions at times.

The weather service said it's already snowing heavily over the Sierra and isn't expected to let up for the next three days. Forecasters expect 5 to 10 feet of snow above 5,000 feet and 1 to 4 feet above 3,000 feet.

Snowfall will be heaviest Thursday afternoon and evening and Friday afternoon. Wind gusts in the mountains are expected to reach up to 75 mph.

People in mountain areas can expect downed trees and power lines and extended power outages.

Forecasters asked drivers to stay off mountain roads, if possible, until the arriving storm is gone on Sunday. To check current road conditions, click here.

Bay City News contributed to this report.