Atmospheric river pummels Bay Area causing flash flooding, leaving cars stranded

Dan Smith

San Francisco (KGO) -- An atmospheric river hit the Bay Area early Tuesday morning, flooding roads extensively and causing fallen trees and branches to fall.

Live: Track real-time rain and storm conditions in the San Francisco Bay Area

It's the first of several storms expected to hit California this week, bringing gusty winds, rain and snow to parts of the state.

More than an inch of rain fell in downtown San Francisco Tuesday, and Mount Tamalpai received more than 4 inches of rain before dawn.

Storm causes flash floods, cars stranded in North Bay

The atmospheric river that blew across the Bay Area overnight brought severe weather with torrential rains, flash floods, and cumbersome commutes across the North Bay.

As Highway 12 in Sonoma County was hit by massive flooding, some cars were abandoned by drivers and got stuck in the middle of the road.

West of Windsor, a creek ran on Mark West Station Road.

Overall, however, the Level 3 storm did not cause as widespread damage as officials expected.

“From our standpoint, this has been a beneficial storm, typically when dealing with burn marks like fire on glass. ,” said Santa Rosa Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal. "We've seen the effects of some of the larger storms, but this one didn't show any movement in the burn scars, just localized flooding across the city. ."

But for drivers on the road, the rain slowed them down, darkened the skies, and made their commute muddy.

"Be sure to keep both hands on the wheel because it's scary," Novato resident Briggs McDonald said.

Residents hope the next series of storms looming in the New Year will only bring much-needed moisture and not a widespread wipeout.

Heavy rains collapse East Bay store roofs

In San Ramon, rain may have caused the roof of the Big 5 sporting goods store at the Crow Canyon Commons shopping plaza to collapse before 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

The city of San Ramon said in a statement to ABC7 News that the main beam in the center of the store broke and the roof collapsed. This also stopped the fire sprinklers. Water from a broken sprinkler and roof flooded a neighboring Rite Aid, the city said.

When the fire department arrived on the scene, most of the store's roof was gone.

San Ramon Valley Fire District battalion commander Eric Seibe ​​says the building is decades old, yet the roof rarely collapses. He added that drainage could have been an issue due to heavy rain and flat roofs.

“For flat roofs, when it rains, the impact is the weight of the water, so drainage is very important,” Seibe ​​explains. "Don't look too often. I've been here for 20 years and this is the first collapse I've seen."

The Big 5 and the city are working on structural damage assessments. Yellow caution tape and red danger tape still block the facades of buildings that have been red-tagged by the city.

In Moraga, Moraga Road between Sky High Drive and St. Mary's Road is closed to traffic due to a large tree on the power line. PGThe &E crew responded with pole and line repairs.

Residents were asked to use alternative routes.

Peninsula Rogue Wave

On Highway 1 in San Mateo County, just east of 280, at about 4:30 a.m., a large tree had fallen blocking the direction of the driveway.

"Slow down, slow down. Some people like to drive fast on Highway 1. It's pretty dangerous," said Pacifica resident Rjay Dominia. "You see accidents all the time here. Always slow down and relax, especially as you approach Manor."

Pacifica is no exception, with heavy rains and problems all over the roads.

Pacifica resident Tristan Brosnan said, "There was a lot of trash blown across the street, with leaves, branches and objects strewn everywhere.

STORM TIMELINE: Atmospheric rivers bring heavy rains, gusts and floods to Bay Area

The storm spurred a high surf advisory on Wednesday morning on the coast. This means big breaking waves 18-25 feet high.

Brosnan said, "It's been a long time since I've seen something this crazy, but come here and oh my god.

Dominia, a Pacifica local, says that no matter how tempting it may be to shoot video near the pier, it means you have to watch out for rough seas.

“When it comes to storm surge warnings, you have to be very careful because there is something called rough seas. said. "So never turn your back on the waves."

VIDEO: Bay Area Expects Rain For 4 Out Of 5 Days, Many Feel Safe

Power outages, road closures, flight cancellations in San Francisco

The stormy weather we've seen in San Francisco doesn't compare to the blizzard conditions in the Midwest and East Coast.

Still, cancellations and delays continue due to toppling dominoes.

SFO on Tuesday was packed with visitors, but without the long queues we've seen in the last few days.

With a few exceptions, most travelers end up where they want to go.

This Tuesday, SFO had over 70 canceled flights and over 200 delayed flights. Still, SFO's duty manager says that with the extra staff on hand, operations are running more smoothly.

MORE: NorCal couple forced to take eight-hour train ride home after Southwest cancels flights

With many returning from the Christmas holidays, the Bay Area is expecting its own stormy weather.

Heavy rain and gusts of wind during the night and early morning flooded some roads.

The southbound lane of the Great Highway was temporarily closed due to minor flooding.

The Department of Public Works said tree crews and arborists are on standby.

“We had requests to put trees on bike lanes and branches. “There were some problems around the civic center. PUC is solving the problem.”

"Everything seems very calm to me. I'm from Chicago. It's pretty dry here, so it's probably a good thing it rains," said Morgan Wessel of San Francisco.

The torrential rains that drenched San Francisco didn't appear to be much of a problem for public works workers.

Meanwhile, PGAbout 400 customers in the city were without power during peak hours, according to &E. That number is now down to double digits.

Heavy snow, rain in Sierra

Video: Sierra Expects Heavy Snow and Rain on New Year's Eve

Severe winter storms are roaring with inches of snow in the Lake Tahoe region.

On I-80 and Highway 50, vehicles with snow tires and not four-wheel drive require chains in both directions.

"For a second, I felt like the wind had blown me away. Oh my god, this place is crazy, but I love it," said Andrea Flores of Santa Rosa. Flores talks about the wind he felt Monday night in the Sierra. Palisades Tahoe He ski resort had snow all night through Tuesday. Winds that affected all resorts including Boreal Mountain.

"We didn't rotate the lift that goes to the top of the ridgeline today, but we had a few other options," said Tucker Norred of Boreal Mountain. There are lifts, tubing is available, and ski and snowboard lessons are low.”

Bay Area residents continue to be encouraged to conserve water despite winter storms

It's already rained in the Bay Area and more is expected, but experts say it's important to continue conserving water.

The storm facing the Bay Area, amidst flooding and other hazards, was not easily navigable.PG&E said the wind caused a major outage.

“We want our customers at home to be prepared for power outages.This is not the only storm system we are seeing this week.There are several other storm systems coming,” said PG. I'm here.&E spokesperson Mayra Tostado said:

But while storms have been dangerous and damaging in some cases, experts say this and future storms bode well.

"This is exactly what we hope to get every winter," said Alison Bridger, professor of meteorology and climate sciences. ”

But Bridger says it's important to continue conservation, as long-term droughts continue to be a concern.

"If you've learned to save, why change?" she said.

A message from Valley Water in Santa Clara County.

Metra Richert, Water Supply Planning and Conservation Manager for Valley Water, said: If you look at our reservoir, it's still only 19% capacity. ”

Metra Richert says reservoirs across the state are also lower than normal at this time of year.

Santa Clara County is currently doing a good job with conservation, she said.

It will take more than the current storm to get us out of the drought, but work is being done to bring in as much rain as possible.

“There are multiple reservoirs throughout the county,” Richert said. "Their aim is to collect water during the rainy season and retain it so that it can be used in the summer when it is needed most.

Local water authorities, including Valley Water, offer water conservation tools and landscape rebate programs to support conservation efforts.

See here for details.

For now, experts remain optimistic about the current storm.

"People are going to get sick of[the rain]after the New Year," Bridger said.

ABC7 News reporters Zach Fuentes, Ansar Hassan, Lena Howland, Suzanne Huang, Stephanie Sierra and JR Stone contributed to this article.

The Associated Press and the Bay City News Service also contributed to this story.

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