SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — The first shot of real winter weather to hit the Bay Area in months caused problems across the region Thursday, there’s still more headed our way.
The heavy rain that started Wednesday night made for a hectic morning commute.
The storm sent a pine tree toppling onto power lines in Oakland. The tree broke a pair of power poles and cut electricity to about a dozen customers.
There were still a few scattered outages around the Bay Area as of early Thursday evening. The largest was affecting about 900 customers near San Pablo.
The stormy weather was predicted to remain in the area until Saturday morning with a low front spinning off the California coast sending in waves of heavy rain and strong winds.
San Francisco International Airport officials said gusty winds had forced 143 flights to be cancelled and 359 to be delayed at SFO Thursday. The FAA reported arrival delays of nearly five hours.
In the Santa Cruz Mountains, flooded roads and the potential for mudslides were a big concern. Treacherous conditions along Highway 17 led to plenty of calls for emergency crews.
In one collision, a car with several passengers on board collided with a pickup truck. The passengers appeared to be OK, but the wreck closed both northbound lanes and backed up traffic.
It was treacherous driving even on smaller highways where sporadic but strong downpours caused flooding.
A section of Highway 9 near Felton was nearly wiped out by a landslide last winter. Thursday, its single lane was partially covered in water.
Santa Cruz County road crews were monitoring streams and clearing blockages at key bridges and culverts.
“We’re just keeping the water flowing,” said one worker.
The rain was mixed with fog and gusty winds strong enough to uproot trees.
On Grapham Hill Road a large tree took down power lines and closed the road for hours. Power was cut to dozens of homes in unincorporated northeast Santa Cruz.
“When the soil gets wet around here, the big trees topple,” said area resident Carl Mindling.
But while Thursday’s rain made a mess of Marin County roadways in the North Bay, Goodman’s Hardware made sure they didn’t make a mess of its Mill Valley store.
“The pumps did their job, so we only saw a little bit of water,” said Goodman’s Hardware worker Kendall Page.
The sandbags outside the door helped, too.
But despite the deluge, it won’t help the North Marin Water District reservoirs; at least not yet.
“This inch, inch and a half, we’re going to need to build back up our ground resources, said North Marin Water District General Manager Drew McIntyre. Then once the ground is saturated, we can get the run off.”
You can see exactly what he’s talking about at Stafford Lake. The ground is so dry it’s cracked, even after all the rain Thursday. It has to saturate before any of the water can end up in the reservoir.
After a parched February, Stafford Lake is currently at 40 percent of capacity.
But McIntyre said he’s a lake-half-full kind of guy when it comes to this year’s outlook.
“The National Weather Service is showing that not only is this week supposed to be wet but it’s also showing the projection for week two is above normal rainfall. So that’s good for us. You can’t predict the future but we’re hopeful,” said McIntyre.