SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The northern edge of a storm front that was threatening Southern California with torrential rains brought showers to the Bay Area, setting up a treacherous Tuesday evening commute.
The National Weather Service forecasted a wet week for the Bay Area with the southern storm followed by a potent system advancing toward Northern California from the Gulf Of Alaska.
The first storm front was carrying with it an atmospheric river system — a huge plume of subtropical moisture — and was targeting the Santa Barbara County coastline. The storm was expected to arrive Tuesday night and last through Thursday, bringing 2 to 5 inches of rain to coastal areas and valleys and 5 to 10 inches in foothills and mountains.
In the Bay Area, weather service forecasters predicted as much as 1 1/2 inches of rain in and around San Francisco and 2-3 inches in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The greatest rainfall totals in the Bay Area region will be along the coastal ranges of the Santa Lucia Mountains where 3-6 inches will likely fall with isolated amounts approaching 10 inches. Forecasters said one outlier model is predicting as much as 16 inches for Big Sur Coast.
Transportation officials warned evening commuters to be on the lookout for ponding water on Bay Area freeways and falling rocks on Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains.
As of 3:25 p.m. on Tuesday, CHP was reporting that there was flooding and a severe traffic alert on northbound US-101 near the eastbound I-80 interchange in San Francisco. The left lane is reportedly blocked. There were also reports of flooding in the right lane as drivers approach the I-80 E/US-101 S split from the Octavia Street freeway entrance.
Motorists are advised to expect delays and to use alternate routes to avoid the area.
The rain was off and on again in the Santa Cruz Mountains Tuesday, causing slippery roads and dangerous conditions.
There was at least one seriously damaged car in a solo accident on Highway 17, an area that sees a spike in crashes during bad weather.
Despite the rain, work continued on repairing the damage from last year’s storms that caused millions of dollars in damage across the area.
Steve Williams lives off Valencia Street and Trout Gulch Road in Aptos, just one of many roads that gave way after months of heavy rains.
“It just slowly sank down,” said Williams. “We didn’t have a road for about four months or six months.”
For more than a year, crews have worked outside his home to rebuild the damaged roads.
“I was in construction my whole working life, so I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve been out there watching everything they did every day,” said Williams.
Just up the street, the rain also washed out a part of Soquel Drive. A net now holds the repairs in place.
Santa Cruz County officials are bracing for what could be a difficult couple of days.
Forecasters also warned of gusty winds in the Bay Area hills, blowing from 15 to 30 mph overnight. The winds will peak Wednesday night into Thursday with gusts of 30 to 45 mph.
In the Sierra, several feet of snowfall was likely in the higher elevations by Friday morning. Snowfall in the Tahoe Basin would be around 7000 feet. Significant travel impacts were predicted for the main Sierra passes including Interstate 80 and Highway 50 by Thursday continuing into Friday morning.