BAY AREA (CBS SF) — Water came down, and up, in the North Bay on Thursday.

The potent winter storm roared into the Bay Area Thursday morning, hammering the region with heavy rains, blustery winds and a high tide that threatened saturated hillsides and flood prone neighborhoods.

Flash flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service for southeastern Sonoma County and much of Marin County have now expired, but not before doing some serious damage.

Weather service officials are encouraging anyone who is in a vehicle to turn around if they see a flooded road rather than try to drive through the water. Most flood deaths occur when someone is in a vehicle.

Panoramic Highway was shut down Thursday afternoon between state Highway 1 and the Throckmorton Fire Station, according to the Marin County Department of Public Works.

Meanwhile, schools were closed for the day in several Marin County districts including Bolinas-Stinson Union, Kentfield Union, Lagunitas, Larkspur-Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Nicasio, Reed Union, Ross, Ross Valley, Sausalito Marin City, Shoreline Unified and Tamalpais Union.

Classes were also cancelled for the day at the College of Marin.

Businesses in downtown San Anselmo have sandbags outside of their doors. As the rain continued to collect in low lying areas, many businesses were closed there.

Homeowners were watching weakened hillsides and shoring them up as best as they can.

“The hills are saturated, the yards are saturated. There really isn’t a place for the water to go. So anytime there’s any water falling on the ground, it’s trying to find its fastest way to the ocean and to the Bay,” said Marin County Sheriff’s Office Lt Doug Pittman. “For us here in Marin County, that means going through our local creeks and streams, and that’s where the problems occur.”

In unincorporated Marin County, south of Mill Valley, a tree fell onto a garage at a residence. The damaged house on South Morning Sun Avenue was unoccupied and no injuries were reported, according to the sheriff’s office.

A flood watch was issued for the Russian River near Guerneville.

For the second time this week the Napa River jumped its banks flooding local roadways.

Linda Sojak walked down to the riverside herself to see if evacuating her home would be necessary.

Stojak said, “Just to check and see if it might be flooding or if I should go stay with my daughter since it’s so close.”

Jana French with the City Of Napa, said, “This is the fourth time we’ve seen it in a month and a half. We’ve closed the gates and it’s done, we’ve been able to get in after the water recedes and open it up to the public.”

Wine country can’t seem to catch a break with Mother Nature this year. City leaders keep watching the bypass fill up, thankful that water isn’t in the downtown area.

The real problem is up in the mountains. Mount Veeder saw multiple small slides Thursday, some cracked roadways, others crushed powerlines.

More than an inch of rain was predicted for the San Francisco Peninsula with as much as 3-4 inches forecasted for the North Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains.

With the Bay Area receiving rain on 26 of the first 40 days of the year, mudslides were of particular concern as the hillsides have become saturated.

Mudslides have already destroyed or damaged homes in San Rafael, Fairfax and the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The slides have also led to havoc on local roadways, with the northbound lanes of Highway 17 – the main traffic artery through the Santa Cruz Mountains – expected to be blocked until the weekend as crews removed tons of rocks and mud.

Forecasters say the Bay Area faces its highest risk of slides since 2005.

Even before dawn, the weather had combined with a fierce winter storm on the East Coast to make it a miserable day for air travel. Getting in and out of Bay Area airports was no easy task.

So far at SFO, 138 flights have been cancelled and another 133 have been delayed.

Both the Oakland International Airport and San Jose Mineta International were feeling less impact, with each reporting 22 delayed flights and fewer than 10 cancelled flights.


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