'Ready for rain': North Bay on alert for possible atmospheric river this weekend

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Many in the the North Bay are preparing for the possibility of heavy rain over the next seven days and lots of preparations are happening.

"Inside the kitchen, we heard a loud crunch, we said 'what is that?,'" said David Bayne.

That crunch was a large pine tree which toppled Bayne's yard, falling onto Bay Vista Drive in Mill Valley. The tree took power lines down with it. Bayne believes recent rains are to blame.



"I think the ground got saturated and the old tree fell over, it had been there for a while," he added.

Rain made for a slow drive on Highway 101 on Wednesday, and there were lots of umbrellas deployed in Novato.

It's a game of 'beat the clock' for public works crews, jamming to clear debris from storm drains before a forecasted atmospheric river this weekend, which could bring inches of rain to the North Bay.

"We've been focusing on cleaning curbs and catch basins, getting a head start on the rain to avoid flooding and all that stuff, we're ready for rain," said Sandoval.

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Flooding is now on the radar for firefighters, who are less concerned about a wildfire threat.

"We have low lying areas, prone to flooding. If the rains come down not consistent with the tide, you got high tide and a lot of rain," said Battalion Chief Matt Bouchard from Southern Marin Fire.

Mill Valley posted a winter storm alert on its website with a special advisory to those in low lying areas to be careful and take precautions. Clean gutters and secure outdoor furniture.

A sandbag station is now open at Santa Rosa's city corporation yard. The bags are free.

"We're making sure our community knows what it means to be prepared for rain, especially homes in burn scar areas, they should be protected and prepared," said Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal.

Loss of power is also a concern that is already coming to fruition.

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There were outages in Berkeley, El Cerrito and Albany, according to PG&E. The agency says it was because of the light rain.



There were outages in Berkeley, El Cerrito and Albany, according to PG&E on Wednesday. The agency says it was because of the light rain. There were also problems on the Peninsula.

About 5,000 customers lost power including some residents in Burlingame. A power pole on Dwight Road at Concord way caught fire.

Power has been restored there. Officials say they were able to quickly turn it back on because they switched customers to a different line. PG&E says they are not always able to do that - it depends on how a section of circuit is designed. So the outage only lasted a couple of hours.

But some residents say waking up to a power pole on fire was not a great way to start the day.

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She wishes PG&E would have washed the lines to get the dust off before this happened. It was her second outage this week.

In El Cerrito, they were also able to switch customers to a different line, so the outage was short.

Currently, there are 3,300 customers without power. PG&E says it is hard to predict whether there was enough rain this time to wash the dirt off of the power lines or whether there is a chance this will happen again this week. It depends on many factors like wind direction and the force of the rain, but the more rain we get, the better.



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