SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Mother Nature delivered a brief reprieve Monday from a series of storms lined up across the Pacific, leaving behind downed power lines, flooded roadways and claiming the life of a 32-year-old Novato man on the UC Berkeley campus.
Authorities said a 250-foot eucalyptus tree toppled onto a car on Gayley Road at 3:48 p.m. Sunday. UC police responded to the scene and found Alexander Grant of Novato inside the crushed vehicle. He was unresponsive and declared dead at the scene.
The Alameda County Coroner’s Office told Berkeleyside.com that Grant was not listed as a UC Berkeley student and was likely on campus to visit a student.
Monday, crews worked to remove the massive tree. One witness who saw the accident said the victim died instantly. UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university is currently conducting a campus-wide tree maintenance program.
In a statement, UC Berkeley said, “We are taking immediate steps to assess whether we can learn anything from the condition of the fallen tree that could improve our evaluation of whether other trees pose a threat to public safety. We expect this work to be completed in the next 48 hours and will, as we have in the past, remove trees as per the recommendations and assessments we receive from certified arborists.”
Brian Gates, owner of Expert Tree Service which was removing the fallen tree Monday, was surprised. “This is a tree that we didn’t expect to fail,” said Gates. “It’s unusual.”
Sunday’s storm ripped through the Bay Area with drenching rains and gusty winds. Trees and power lines toppled across the region, closing several roadways including State Highway 152 in unincorporated Santa Clara County and State Highway 9 around one mile south of 236 Upper Road in Boulder Creek in unincorporated Santa Cruz County.
Over the last 24 hours ending at 8 a.m. Monday, 5.53 inches of rain had fallen at Ben Lomond in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 3.90 inches in Kentfield and 4.41 inches in San Anselmo in Marin County, 3 inches at St. Helena in Wine Country, 2.49 inches at Mt. Diablo in Contra Costa County, 1.58 inches in Oakland, 1.26 inches in San Francisco and 2 inches in Gilroy.
“These rainfall totals produced small stream flooding especially across the North Bay, with reports of minor landslides and roadway flooding,” the National Weather Service said.
Forecasters warned Bay Area residents that more showers were on the way.
“On Tuesday expect an increase in showers, mainly across the North Bay,” the weather service said. “Widespread precipitation will develop Tuesday evening as a trough pushes ashore. Rain will taper to showers Wednesday morning.”
The brunt of the storm will be felt in the North Bay where 1-3 inches of rain were expected.
“Thursday will largely be dry with weak ridging in place,” NWS forecasters said. “This looks like the best chance this week for some sunshine.”
Then the showers will return.
“We’ll continue to be under a wet pattern for at least the next 7-10 days,” the weather service said. “As the rain accumulates and soils saturate this week and into the weekend, will have to monitor for an increasing risk of mudslides and debris flows.”
Meanwhile in the Sierra, Sunday’s storm triggered near white-out blizzard conditions. Traffic was halted on I-80 near Donner Summit and on Highway 50. The California Highway Patrol finally reopened westbound Highway 80 at 7 a.m. Monday. Chains were being required.
Officials said the storms dumped 4.5 feet of snow at Mammoth Mountain, nearly 4 feet at Northstar and 4 feet of snow at Squaw Valley.
The National Weather Service on Monday issued a winter storm warning for areas in the Sierra Nevada above 4,000 feet, saying snowy and gusty conditions will limit visibility.
Sunday’s storm dumped more than 2 feet of new snow at Squaw, Incline and Northstar.