Bay Area commuters struggled through driving rain on Wednesday morning, surprised not at its appearance, which had been forecasted, but at its intensity. The National Weather Service in Sacramento issued a flood watch for Northern California on Tuesday, as the Bay Area enjoyed sunny skies followed by a fine moonlit evening. A weather system comprised of a series of powerful rainstorms is forecasted to last through the weekend.
Buckets of water periodically spilled onto pedestrians from bulging shop awnings and from the tops of bus stop shelters in San Francisco, and swirling gullies appeared around drains blocked with autumn leaves, creating ankle-deep puddles impossible to avoid. Drivers faced their own set of challenges. A burst of sunshine appeared by noon in downtown San Francisco, but the five-day forecast calls for significantly more rainfall.
While Northern California typically enjoys some of the nation's most enviable weather, local residents are aware of the adage regarding California's four seasons: earthquake, fire, flood, and drought. Flooding is one of the most common natural disasters in the United States, according to FEMA. We are all under heightened awareness in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's widespread and severe damage in October 2012.
Drivers are advised to prepare for longer journey times at reduced speed due to necessary precautions on wet road surfaces and to avoid low-lying areas. Under windy conditions, drivers are reminded to be alert to falling tree branches and debris and cross winds on exposed routes and bridges.
Both pedestrians and drivers are reminded to avoid walking through moving water, as a few inches of moving water can prompt a fall. If you must walk in water, look for where the water is not moving, and use a branch or a stick to check the depth, as well as whether the ground is firm ahead of you.
Home preparation advice calls for inspecting drains and gutters to clear leaves, checking seals on windows and doors, lowering water levels in outdoor pools and clearing filters, and keeping your heating system inspections up to date. FEMA advises putting together and maintaining an emergency supply kit, including canned foods and a manual opener, non-perishable food and camping cooking equipment, a good supply of drinking water, any essential medicines, flashlights, candles and a lighter, a battery-operated radio, fresh batteries of various sizes, and a first-aid kit.
The flood watch is issued across a wide region from the Oregon border to coastal San Diego County, with high surf advisories and wind advisories into interiors across California and into Nevada. Wind gusts are forecasted to reach as high as 70 mph in coastal areas.
- Natural Phenomena
- Nature & Environment
- National Weather Service
- Northern California