Bay Area Storm: Atmospheric River rocks Bay Area causing closures, evacuations

The latest atmospheric river storm system walloped the Bay Area on Thursday evening into Friday morning, unleashing a powerful combination of rainfall and gusty winds that left roads flooded and trees leveled.

A vast majority of the storm’s rain fell in Thursday evening or later. According to National Weather Service 12-hour rain totals around 5 a.m. Friday, most Bay Area urban population centers hovered near the one-inch mark. San Jose received .88 inches, slightly more than downtown San Francisco’s .77. Other measurements along the Peninsula and in the South Bay included 1.23 in Redwood City, .99 in Palo Alto, 1.15 in Sunnyvale and .98 in Mountain View.

The rain packed a stronger punch in East Bay communities as many communities cleared the one-inch hurdle with ease. Oakland saw a considerable amount of rain at 1.47 inches, while Walnut Creek was at 1.30. Other totals included 1.13 in Concord, 1.23 in Hayward, .96 in Hayward and 1.43 in Fremont. Most inland communities saw gusts of wind around 35 to 45 miles per hour, while they were as high as 65 to 75 mph in higher elevation areas.

Shower activity is starting to diminish slightly over the Bay Area. Heavier rain will continue over the Central Coast thru the early afternoon.

Getting lots of reports of flooding, washed out roads, mudslides, etc. Use extreme caution if travel is necessary this AM. #CAwx

— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) March 10, 2023

The heavy rains caused problems on roadways throughout the region as the NWS-issued flood watch remains in effect until Sunday. Interstate 580 remained closed in both directions Friday morning in Oakland between 35th Avenue and High Street due to flooding, according to CalTrans. Highway 129 between Murphy Crossing to highway 101 in Santa Cruz County was closed Friday morning due to slides, as was highway 152 at Casserly Road.

TRAFFIC ALERTroadway closed on SR-129 between Murphy Crossing to US 101 due to slides. Please don’t drive through slides, it’s not safe.

Also keep in mind that SR-152 at Casserly Road is also closed due to slides. Please use alternate routes.

— CHP Santa Cruz (@CHPscrz) March 10, 2023

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What is an atmospheric river?

Also in Santa Cruz County, Felton Grove, Paradise Park and Soquel Village were evacuated just before midnight Thursday due to flooding concerns according to the county’s sheriff’s office. The San Lorenzo River experienced flooding concerns due to the heavy rains.

Main Street in Soquel collapsed as heavy floods tore through the unincorporated community. A video posted to Santa Cruz County’s Twitter feed showed a rapid band of water flowing perpendicular to the damaged roadway, prompting a closure.

Main Street in Soquel. Avoid the area. Residents north of Bates Creek cannot pass. Road crews are working on a solution.

— Santa Cruz County (@sccounty) March 10, 2023

High winds overnight combined with heavily saturated soils made for dangerous situations when it came to fallen trees around the region. Two passengers of a Tesla were miraculously O.K. after a massive tree collapsed on the vehicle in unincorporated Redwood City. Old La Honda Road and Skyline Boulevard remained closed Friday morning due to the incident.

Road closure at Old La Honda Road and Skyline Blvd. in unincorporated Redwood City. Both passengers are expected to be ok.

Stay home tonight if you can, folks. If you must drive in the storm, deputies are here for you, day or night.

— San Mateo County S.O (@SMCSheriff) March 10, 2023

Heading into Friday, winds were expected to slow down according to the NWS.

“We still have some breezy conditions, especially South Bay and then the Central Coast area with gusts anywhere from like 25 to 35 mph, maybe getting up into the 40s in some areas, but it’s calmed down in most areas,” said NWS meteorologist Eleanor Dhuyvetter.

Most urban parts of the Bay Area were expected to see about half of an inch of rain Friday as the storm begins to stretch out and scatter. The NWS flood watch remains in effect until 10 a.m. Sunday, but the agency said remaining flood concern is more due to potential issues with runoff than additional rainfall.

“The lingering, kind of isolated showers, those will last basically throughout the day,” Dhuyvetter said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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