SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Winds gusting up to 65 mph on Mount Diablo howled through the San Francisco Bay Area Saturday, toppling trees and branches and knocking out power to more than 6,000 PG&E customers.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the entire Bay Area until 10 a.m. Sunday. The winds and dry conditions created high fire danger throughout the area and were fueling a wildfire near the Antioch Bridge.
Wind gusts were measured at 53 mph on Mount Tam and 55 mph in Cupertino.
In Berkeley, a massive toppled onto several cars including one belonging to Shira Gill and her husband.
“Our car was parked right behind this car and it just basically covered our entire car,” she said. “So my husband could barely back out. We had to lift the tree as much as we could to get him out.”
Fortunately, the Gills escaped injury.
“I just feel relieved that I was not standing there two seconds earlier,” Shira said. “Or it would hit me.”
Meanwhile in Antioch, James Francis was watching a football game at his girlfriend’s house when he noticed the tree outside starting to topple. The giant cedar ripped up the sidewalk but only slightly damaged the home.
“No noise, no movement, nothing,” he told KPIX 5. “I just saw the tree move.”
The tree took down power lines and officials said it would take several hours to remove it.
Shawnery Hardin watched the wind snap a redwood tree next to his home on Skylonda Drive in San Mateo County. The tree smashed two of his neighbor’s cars and crashed through a fence.
“Honesty, it was amazing to see nature control of life like that,” he said. “They just moved in. What an awful welcome to the neighborhood.”
Several other trees toppled during the day including one in Sue Berman Park along San Francisco’s Embarcadero and another that blocked a street in Vallejo.
At the Berkeley Marina, two boaters were rescued by the Coast Guard after high winds pushed their boat up against some old pilings. Two stranded boaters were hoisted into the helicopter and flown to safety. Neither boater was injured.
Meanwhile, the California Highway Patrol issued high wind advisories for several Bay Area bridges and highway locations during the day on Saturday. Included were the Antioch Bridge, the Bay Bridge, the Altamont Pass and the area around eastbound Interstate Highway 80 at northbound Interstate Highway 680.
The gusty conditions also were raising concerns for firefighters. Cal Fire captain Mike Marcucci said in all his years with the agency, he’s never experienced a year like this one.
Generally by mid-December, Cal Fire has just 4 trucks still staffed in the Bay Area. This year the agency has kept all 15 of its trucks manned.
“All of our fire stations are open right now, something you never see in the middle of December in the Bay Area,” he said. “This is my 20th fire season and I can’t remember a December like this.”
In the waters off Sausalito, the high winds and rough seas set several small vessels that people live on adrift. Water rescue teams spent hours pulling boats and people to safety.
No injuries were reported, but at least 10 boats required assistance and three boats partially sank.