Bay Area Gets Break Before Next Storm System

Northern California got a break Saturday from a wet and windy storm that downed trees and power lines, ripped through freeway and street signs and led to dozens of flight cancellations at San Francisco's airport.

But that break was expected to be short-lived, as another storm system barreled toward the region with more rain and wind.

With another storm expected for Sunday, residents said they are nervous for what is to come.

“A little bit. It was a sleepless night last night," Sandi Thompson said. "Every time the wind kicked up, which as all the time, none of us slept, really.”

The sun peeked through the clouds on Saturday in San Francisco, where scattered showers were expected throughout the day. The next storm system was forecast to hit on Sunday morning, bringing wind gusts as high as 45 mph and up to 3 inches of additional rain on coastal hills in the San Francisco Bay Area and another 1.5 inches on Bay Area cities.

"The winds will be up again, especially along the coast,'' said Austin Cross, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

The storm system was expected to affect much of the West Coast, with a flood warning in effect for parts of Oregon and the threat of landslides in western Washington.

The rains will persist into the weekend, and weather officials warn of flooding in several rivers in western Washington.

In San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood, a fallen tree has been quite a spectacle. Nobody expected any of the trees in Precita Park to fall after a major storm. Although there were no injuries or damages were reported, the falling tree was evidence it does not take much to bring down a drought-effected tree.

Long-time residents said there have been stronger storms than Friday’s, with minimal damage, so they cannot believe this happened.

“There’s been some massive storms," Alberto Navarro said while shaking his head. "I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Knowing that another storm is coming Sunday, residents hope the other trees in the park do not pose a similar threat.

But across the Bay, the high winds proved too much for homes. A 90-foot pine tree came crashing down across three backyards in the Berkeley Hills during Friday’s storm. Only the roof of one home suffered damage where the top of the tree landed.

Neighbors said they were thankful nobody got hurt.

“It’s horrible," Berkeley resident Ken Renworth said. "It could have come down on their house. It could have destroyed their house. There are people inside. They could have been killed or injured.”

Some residents believe since the pines are nearing their life expectancy, they may be more prone to falling.

In the Bay Area, more than 93,000 people lost power, as winds from Friday's storm brought down trees that took out power lines.

As of 7:30 p.m. Saturday, there were about 1,250 customers still without power throughout the region, according to PG&E.

The North Bay had about 900 customers without power, the most in the Bay Area, PG&E said. Outages are also affecting roughly 100 customers in the Peninsula, three customers in the East Bay, 100 in the South Bay and 150 in San Francisco, according to PG&E.

Floy Dawson, who lives on Treat Avenue in San Francisco, said he was thankful he will have power during the next storm. After having none for hours overnight and into Saturday morning, he said PG&E finally brought in a temporary generator for his neighborhood.

“What was aggravating is you could look out the window and see lights all around us, and it was just this one little area,” Dawson said.

North of San Francisco, businesses in Marin, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma counties stacked sandbags to prepare for possible flash flooding from swollen waterways, but there were no reports of any significant damage.

San Francisco International Airport saw delays of up to 90 minutes and about 175 flights canceled Friday. And on Saturday, around 26 flights were canceled, leaving some passengers not able to leave SFO until Monday. Four flights were canceled at Oakland airport, while two cancellations were reported at San Jose airport.

San Francisco got about three-quarters of an inch of rain while some coastal communities in the Bay Area saw more than five inches — a welcome change after six dry weeks in the Bay Area.

The storm was far from a drought-buster, however, particularly as it stayed warm and didn't bring much snow to the Sierra. Snow is more important than rain because snowpack supplies about a third of the water needed by residents, agriculture and industry.

The storm dropped between 10 to 15 inches of snow at higher elevations of the Northern Sierra, National Weather Service forecaster Holly Osborne said. The next system was also expected to be warm, bringing as much as another 14 inches of snow before moving out Monday.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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