SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — Government agencies throughout the Bay Area are doing their part to get ready for heavy rains expected Friday and Saturday, brought to the California coast by a phenomenon known as an “atmospheric river.”

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch in the North Bay and the Santa Cruz mountains running from Thursday evening to sometime Saturday morning. There’s also a slight chance of thunderstorms tonight and Friday morning.

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Localized flooding has been predicted in the North Bay, South Bay and in San Francisco, where utility workers are setting up temporary flood barriers to protect properties in low-laying areas of the city.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission also has “strike teams” on standby to clear storm drains of leaves and other debris to help prevent flooding caused by clogs.

In Sonoma County, officials were advising residents living in the October wildfire burn areas to be “rain ready” in light of the periods of heavy rain forecast for Thursday night through Saturday morning.

The Santa Rosa Fire Department is encouraging residents to keep their cellphones on at all times to receive emergency warnings from the National Weather Service and SoCo Alerts. Residents may sign up for the alerts at

“We urge our residents to use caution outdoors and avoid our creeks during higher intensity rainfall,” Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal said.

Residents that live in and around the burn scars from the Tubbs and Nuns fires can receive information about possible flooding and mud or debris flows at

Sand bags for Santa Rosa residents are available at the Municipal Services Center, located at 55 Stony Point Road. The yard is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Proof of residency is required.

Sonoma County Water Agency officials said a system of 10 stream/rain gauges and 12 rain-only gauges were installed throughout the Nuns and Tubbs burn areas and along streams within and downstream of the burn areas.

The gauges provide real-time data to weather forecasters who are responsible for sending flash flood and mud or debris flow alerts.

“This system of gauges allows us to monitor streams and rainfall in real-time and gives us a more accurate picture of conditions in the burn areas that are vulnerable. We can also start to gather historical flow data along more streams which is critical for our stream maintenance and flood control operations,” chief engineer Jay Jasperse said.

The real-time rainfall and stream flow data is available to the public at

Inland urban areas can expect 1.25 to 2.75 inches of rain from the storm, but totals could range from 2.5 to 3.5 inches in the North Bay and coastal areas of the South Bay could get 3 to 6 inches, according to the weather service.

In Contra Costa County, sandbags were available at numerous locations, and county officials have made a full list available online at

The town of Colma is offering residents 10 free sandbags, available at the community center on Hillside Center or the Public Works corporation yard on F Street.

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