Storm wreaks havoc on Bay Area roads and airports
Flooding, power outages and road closures reported across the Bay Area
A wash of heavy rain continued to move across the Bay Area Wednesday morning, snarling roads with closures and creating logistical headaches for travelers making their way out of town for Thanksgiving. And forecasters warn that the wet weather — the first significant storm to hit the region in months — isn’t over yet.
Showers rolled from the North Bay starting around midday Tuesday, soaking virtually all of the Bay Area thanks to a lowpressure cold front from Oregon. While the bulk of the system hit overnight — causing more than an inch of rainfall in places like Venado and Moraga — the weather was expected to continue to impact the region into Wednesday.
“In terms of all the travel plans, the wettest period will be this morning for rainfall and accumulation,” said Ryan Walbrun, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.”
“As for traveling Wednesday afternoon, he added, “it’s not going to be good either way.”
Already, California Highway Patrol has closed Interstate 80 between Truckee and Alta on Tuesday following multiple weather-related collisions, as well as Interstate 5 between Yreka and Redding due to “the extremely large number of vehicles spun out along the interstate,” Caltrans said early Wednesday. CHP also told those planning to drive to Southern California that a portion of Interstate 5 could be closed because of a snow-rain mix projected to hit the area.
Smaller closures snarled city traffic in the Bay Area, too. Part of the main thoroughfare El Camino Real in Burlingame was shut down overnight Tuesday thanks to flooding, along with another major intersection in San Mateo.
Predictably, the rain also caused problems for those flying out of town. By 9 a.m. Wednesday, six flights had been cancelled at San Francisco International Airport and 96 more had been delayed. Three flights were also cancelled by 9 a.m. at Mineta San Jose International Airport. And on Tuesday night, travelers at Oakland International Airport were plunged into darkness for about an hour, in one of several power outages to hit the region as the storm rolled through.
It’s not just the Bay Area facing weather-related woes. In southern Oregon, the low pressure system caused wind gusts up to 106 mph in Cape Blanco, according to NWS, which also issued a blizzard warning for the Cascades and Siskiyou Mountains in the same area. Meanwhile in the Midwest, snow rapidly blanketed parts of Minnesota, throttling flights in and out of Minneapolis and prompting a snow emergency in several cities.
The Bay Area is expected to get a brief respite from the rain — if not the cold — Thursday. Thanksgiving itself is projected to be fairly dry across the region, with temperatures in the low 30s in the morning and crawling up to a high of 51 degrees in San Jose and Oakland by the afternoon.
Snow gathered across the Santa Lucia Range in Monterey County and Chalone Peak near San Benito on Wednesday, while a smattering of snow was also reported on Mount Diablo.
But the rain is expected to return again for the weekend, with another system forecast to move through the Bay, bringing rain “in the order of inches,” according to NWS. That could begin as early as Saturday midday and persist until late Sunday.
“This was a cold, showery system, but the second one will come in from the west and have longer duration with steady rain,” Walbrun said.