Atmospheric River

Bay Area Storm Topples Trees, Floods Roadways, Knocks Out Power to Thousands

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Counties across the Bay Area reported downed trees, power lines and other damage caused by the atmospheric river storm Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

As of 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, power was out for 27,000 customers as fierce winds and rain battered the region, PG&E reported. 

The outages by region were as follows: 10,127 in the East Bay, 5,295 in the North Bay, 10,824 in the South Bay, 797 on the Peninsula, and 384 in San Francisco. Find the latest on PG&E outages here.

Important Storm Links

A major freeway connector in the South Bay was shut down early Wednesday morning because of a jackknifed big-rig. The ramp from southbound Interstate 680 to southbound Highway 101 in San Jose was closed at about 4 a.m., with no estimated time for reopening, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Meteorologist Kari Hall has an update on the atmospheric river and the forecast into the weekend.

A jackknifed big-rig on the Bay Bridge late Tuesday also was involved in a crash that blocked lanes of the span for some time.

Wind gusts reached 55 mph in Point Richmond, 68 mph at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, and 77 mph on Mt. Diablo, according to the National Weather Service.

The peak at Alpine Meadows ski resort near Lake Tahoe had a 125 mph (201 kph) wind gust, the weather service said.

A downed tree blocked the northbound lane of Highway 1 near Stuart Horse Camp around 9 p.m. in the city of Olema, the Marin County Sheriff's Office said.

In Santa Rosa, police reported downed power lines and arcing on Ware Avenue.

Southbound San Pablo Avenue was closed between Rivers and Lake streets due to a downed tree in the road, the San Pablo Police Department said.

Crews worked to clear the roadway, the department said just before 7 p.m., and travelers were advised to use other routes, police said.

Flash flood watches are in effect from Tuesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon for a number of areas, including much of the North Bay, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the hills in the East Bay and the South Bay, according to the weather service.

Evacuation orders and warnings are still in effect for areas of Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Napa counties, where summer wildfires scorched the landscape.

About 200 of the 2,800 households told to evacuate in Santa Cruz County refused to leave Tuesday ahead of predicted intense rainfall, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Ashley Keehn told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

“When people do that they run the risk of being trapped and of needing help and not being able to get a hold of help because the power’s out and phone lines are down and they can’t get a hold of emergency personnel when they need them,” Keehn said.

She added: “If they do get a hold of us but there is an active debris flow in an area, that could physically block our rescue crews from getting in to them.”

Santa Cruz County officials said Wednesday morning that no debris flows were reported in the area.

Rare snow was reported in Sonoma and Napa counties north of San Francisco at elevations as low as 1,300 feet (396 meters). Low-level snow also fell in the northern Sacramento Valley.

The National Weather Service issued a rare blizzard warning for Lake Tahoe and much of the Sierra, forecasting up to 6 feet (2 meters) of snow falling on upper elevations and winds in excess of 100 mph (160 kph) over ridgetops.

Describing it as a potential “life-threatening situation,” the warning was to be in effect from 10 p.m. Tuesday through 4 a.m. Friday for the Tahoe area as far south as Mammoth Lakes, California.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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