Tornado Warning Expires in South Bay

By Lori Preuitt
|  Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010  |  Updated 5:35 PM PDT
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The National Weather Service issued a rare tornado warning in the South Bay.  The NSW issued an emergency declaration just after 2 p.m. for Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties that expired by 2:30 p.m.

People in the Bay Area Weather Service office who issued the warning said it was the tornado warning they have ever sent out.

There have been no official sightings of tornadoes as of 2:30 p.m.  The warning was for people in eastern Santa Cruz County and Morgan Hill.

A dangerous band of weather was over Santa Cruz County at 2:15 p.m. headed NE at 35 mph.

The system was strong enough to produce a tornado.  It could also produce moth ball size hail and wind gusts up to 50 mph.

The system quickly weakended.   A "significant weather alert" remained in effect for Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Alameda Counties until 3:15 p.m.

Wednesday's weather was the latest in a series of storm to hit the Bay Area.  It brought thunderstorms, wind and the heaviest rain of the week.

The storm included "quite a bit  of instability," National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Tentinger said.  "That's what's firing off these thunderstorms that are embedded in the  rainfall."

Thousands of PG&E customers were without power by early afternoon and most of them were in the South Bay, where 31,000 customers were affected, PG&E spokeswoman Katie Romans said

One more note for drivers: Highway 101 at Alum Rock flooded Wednesday and caused a real traffic mess.  All southbound lanes were closed for a time.  Even after two lanes reopened, traffic back up for miles.

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