Rain brings some relief — and some problems
Flooding reported near Paradise; new storm expected tonight
A storm system that swept across the Bay Area brought soaking showers Thursday, causing flooding on some roads, boosting winter rain totals and dumping more than a foot of snow in the Sierra Nevada. It also caused more misery in the town of Paradise, with flooding in communities still reeling from the Camp Fire.
And more is on the way.
Conditions should dry out this morning, forecasters say, but a new storm is expected to hit this evening through Saturday afternoon, with cool temperatures and light rain across the Bay Area. Dry weather returns Sunday, but more storms seem to be shaping up for next Wednesday.
“These systems are generating over the Pacific and moving over our area,” said Anna Schneider, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Monterey. “We’re into a wet winter pattern now. We’re going to be seeing more
frequent rainfall. We’re getting beneficial rainfall and ending the fire season.”
By midday Thursday, rainfall totals for the previous 48 hours included 3 inches in Santa Rosa; 1.26 inches in downtown San Francisco; 1.78 inches in Oakland; and 0.84 inch at Mineta San Jose International Airport, according to the weather service.
The highest elevations around the region received more of a drenching, with Ben Lomond in the Santa Cruz Mountains getting 3.79 inches; Anderson Peak in Big Sur seeing 4.85 inches; and Mount Diablo receiving 2.1 inches from Tuesday to Thursday.
The weather service issued an urban flood advisory for San Francisco, Oakland and the North Bay through Thursday night. Several reports of minor f looding were recorded across the Bay Area, including significant water on the roadways disrupting traffic at Highway 101 in Morgan Hill and Interstate 680 near Alum Rock Avenue in San Jose.
BART experienced a 20-minute delay across the system Thursday morning after windy, wet conditions prompted trains to slow down, blew branches onto tracks and caused temporary flooding at Oakland’s 19th Street station.
Although the main front of the storm passed through the Bay Area by midmorning, the system delivered intermittent showers throughout the day.
There also were scattered power outages throughout the region, ac- cording to the PG& E outage map.
Concerns grew throughout the day Thursday about flash floods in recently burned areas in Butte County. There were reports around 1 p.m. of debris flows on Honey Run Road, just west of Paradise in Butte County, with sheriff’s deputies and firefighters attempting to rescue as many as 50 people stranded in homes by the blocked road.
Highway 140 between Mariposa and Yosemite National Park also was closed after mud and debris from an area burned this sum- mer in the massive Ferguson Fire washed onto the roadway.
Along with the heavy rains, the storm blew strong winds. Gusts peaked Thursday at 68 mph atop Mount Diablo, 54 in the Los Gatos Hills and 51 at San Francisco International Airport.
The weather service also issued a high surf advisory for the Northern and Central California coastline through this morning. Waves of up to 23 feet were recorded.
In the Sierra Nevada, snow levels dropped as low as 5,000 feet. Most major ski areas received at least 1 foot of snow by midday Thursday, with Mammoth Mountain, farther south, getting more than 3 feet.
There is a winter storm warning in the Sierra through today. Chain requirements were in place Thursday for all vehicles except those with fourwheel- drive on Interstate 80 over Donner Summit and Highway 50 in the Sierra. Authorities were discouraging travel during the storm.
The snow prompted Yosemite National Park to close its main roads through the high country, Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road, for the winter season. Forecasts called for more than 2 feet of snow in the Yosemite high country by today.
The late November rains have allowed much of California to pull out of an early season rainfall deficit.
A week ago, San Francisco was at just 7 percent of its historic average rainfall for Oct. 1 through mid-November. Oakland and San Jose were even worse, at 2 percent, and Livermore was at 1 percent of normal. Through Thursday afternoon, San Francisco was up to 95 percent, Oakland 89 percent, San Jose 73 percent and Livermore 56 percent.
Schneider from the weather service said the next round of rain starting today should should be less severe.
“It’s going to be a little bit weaker system. We’ll probably see a quarter of an inch in most places, maybe a little bit more in the mountains,” she said.
A man walks with an umbrella in the rain Thursday across the campus of Cal State East Bay in Hayward.
Jaime Ruiz hauls farm equipment in the rain for Kajiko Nursery in Morgan Hill on Thursday.
Members of a Cal Fire water rescue team haul their inflatable rescue boat through floodwaters as they look for residents who need to be evacuated from Butte Creek Canyon in Chico on Thursday.
An early morning rainbow lights up the sky in Martinez between downpours on Thursday.
Skiers ride the lift at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Thursday. Heavenly reports seven inches of new snow since Thursday.