Friday, November 30, 2012

[californiadisasters] Super Soaker KOs Bay Area Power

2,700 without power, more rain on way

Updated 9:16 p.m., Friday, November 30, 2012

The river of rain forecast to drench the Bay Area this week has taken its second swipe at the region, generating heavy downpours from the North Bay to the Santa Cruz Mountains, slowing commute traffic and downing electrical lines that supply thousands of households.

More than 2,700 Bay Area power customers were without electricity Friday evening, down from a high of 15,000 earlier in the day, according to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. officials. The majority of outages were in the North Bay.

Rainfall totals ranged from impressive - more than an inch in San Francisco and 2-plus inches in Oakland - to gully-washing, such as the 7 1/2 inches that came down in the Sonoma County town of Venado.

At the height of the storm, the morning commute was predictably slow.

"Anytime a storm like this hits anywhere in California, CHP is extremely busy," Officer Michael Ferguson of the California Highway Patrol said as he patrolled San Francisco highways. "There are times when we're going from call to call, crash to crash, and it just doesn't stop."

Starting about 7:30 a.m., Ferguson's patrol car radio made a constant crackle reporting disabled vehicles, potholes that need filling, flooding and minor accidents.

The priority for officers during a rainy rush hour is to keep the roads clear as best as possible.

That includes pushing disabled vehicles out of the roadway and onto a shoulder, as Ferguson had to do for a Ford Econoline van that stalled on westbound Interstate 80 near the Seventh Street on-ramp.

Another officer did the same for a red Nissan sedan that hit the center divide and spun out on Interstate 280 northbound just south of the Avalon Drive exit.

The CHP expects more of the same as heavy rains are predicted to continue off and on throughout the weekend.

As the deluge picks up Saturday night, San Francisco residents can expect about an inch of rainfall, with totals in the wettest parts of the Bay Area reaching up to 7 inches, according to Austin Cross, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

Cross said the agency is monitoring potential flooding in the Russian River area and in the coastal mountains.

In preparation, the San Francisco Department of Public Works has distributed 400 sandbags and has 2,000 more ready for pickup at its yard at 2323 Cesar Chavez St.

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