SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A potent storm front battered the Bay Area early Thursday with torrential downpours flooding roadways, dumping dime-sized hail on the San Francisco Peninsula and etching the skies with lightning from the Russian River in the North Bay to Salinas in the South Bay.
According to the National Weather Service, a strong squall line ripped through the San Francisco Peninsula around 7 a.m., triggering lightning strikes, winds in excess of 30 mph and pounding the area with dime-size hail.
The steady overnight rain triggered flooded roadways throughout the Bay Area. Flooding forced the California Highway Patrol to close eastbound Interstate Highway 580 just east of the MacArthur Maze in Oakland for more than an hour overnight as was the case on eastbound state Highway 4 just east of Pine Street in Martinez.
In the South Bay, there was overnight flooding of Santa Cruz Avenue in Los Gatos, Highway 9 was completely flooded on the soutbound side at Austin Way and San Jose firefighters responded to a call for a water rescue on Alameda, just under the Stockton undercrossing for the rail lines.
Arriving crews, found a solo vehicle with one occupant stranded in knee-deep water.
The storm was also toppling trees throughout the Bay Area. Near downtown Oakland, a 50-foot tree tumbled onto several cars while a power pole fell on Panoramic Highway near Washington Park Ave.
In Mill Valley, a Christmas tree lot scattered by the winds.
The CHP warned morning commuters to slow down and allow extra time on their trips to work
BART officials said the 20th Street entry way to a downtown Oakland station was also closed because of flooding. Meanwhile, there was also slow going on the BART Antioch extension because of wet tracks and equipment problems that plagued the transit system throughout the morning.
The pounding rain caused a section of the roof at a West Oakland warehouse to cave in overnight.
The warehouse is located at 24th and Peralta. Video shot by chopper 5 showed a large quantity of debris that fell through the gaping hole.
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By 5 a.m., strong storm cells were streaming across Bay Area skies, triggering lightning in both the North and South Bay.
The National Weather Service has issued a gale warning for San Pablo Bay, Suisun Bay, the West Delta and San Francisco Bay North of the Bay Bridge for winds and waves through 6 p.m. Thursday.
Along the coast, the weather service issued a high surf advisory. Forecasters said west to northwest swell with heights of 13-to-16 feet at 14-to-18 second intervals would continue through the day. The swell was expected to produce breaking waves along the shore around 15 to 22 feet.
As daybreak neared, the storm had dumped 2.73 inches of rain at Boulder Creek and 2.35 inches at Ben Lomond in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 2.40 inches at Tilden Park in Berkeley, 1.54 in Kentfield, 1.21 inches at San Francisco International Airport, an inch at Mt. Diablo, 1.50 inches in Alameda, 1.31 inches in Orinda and 1.15 inches in Napa.
Winds were also gusty with San Francisco International registering winds of 33-36 mph and 23 mph at Oakland International. Airport officials warned travelers to check with their airlines for delays if they planned to fly on Thursday.
After months of bone dry conditions, Mother Nature has dumped several inches of rain on the Bay Area over the last eight days. Over 10 inches of rain have been observed at Mount Tamalpais and Ben Lomond mountain since the rains returned.