Flooding prompts major Bay Area highway closures and evacuation warnings for Northern California neighborhoods


Heavy rain and melting snow flooded roads and led to highway closures and evacuation warnings in Northern California on Saturday, officials said.

At one point, U.S. Highway 101 — one of California’s most famous routes — was closed in both directions in South San Francisco because “the water was not receding due to continuous rainfall and high tides preventing the water from moving.” the California Highway Patrol said in an evening update. The highway was reopened later Saturday night after floodwaters receded, the CHP said.

Authorities are also working to rescue submerged vehicles from the highway after some chose to drive through the closures, the agency said.

The California Department of Transportation also reported a partial closure of Interstate 80 near the Nevada line at noon Saturday “due to multiple outages on top of Donner.” Mountain pass driving in the Sierra Nevada Mountains requires tire chains for most of this month due to heavy snowfall.

In Sacramento County and neighboring areas, residents were advised to avoid travel as wind gusts of up to 55 mph toppled trees and covered roads with debris, according to a tweet from the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

A violent storm that brought widespread heavy rain Friday through Saturday, creating a flood threat for much of northern and central California, approaching unprecedented levels.

By Saturday night, San Francisco was closing in on breaking the city’s record for wettest day on record.

“Downtown San Francisco now at 5.45 inches, just 9-hundredths of an inch from the daily record (midnight to midnight) of 5.54 inches,” National Weather Service said in a 5pm update on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the active jet stream pattern has also produced a parade of storms fueled by an atmospheric river of Pacific moisture.

Ann atmospheric river is a long, narrow region in the atmosphere that can carry moisture thousands of miles, like a fire hose in the sky. This heavy rainfall will slide south into Southern California Saturday and Sunday, accompanied by gusty winds of 30 to 50 mph.

Several small communities in Northern California received evacuation orders and warnings Saturday due to flooding. Three communities near the city of Watsonville were told to evacuate by Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office due to creek flooding, while officials ordered the communities of Paradise Park and Felton to evacuate due to rising levels on the San Lorenzo River.

Neighborhoods near the Santa Rita River in Monterey County were placed under a warning Saturday afternoon due to concerns that the river “will overflow its banks,” according to the sheriff’s office.

Flood evacuations were held Saturday with the help of an armored rescue vehicle in south San Ramon.

Residents in the community of Wilton, about 20 miles from Sacramento, were ordered to shelter in place because of the rain and flooding.

“Rising water made roads in the area impassable,” Sacramento County officials said on Facebook, urging those already on the road to head to safety and those at home to “stay home.”

The county on Saturday issued declaring a local winter storm emergency, saying the weather the river experienced had caused “significant transport impacts, rising river and river levels and flooding” in the Wilton area.

Flood Watch for more than 16 million it is in effect iincluding the entire Bay Area and Central Valley even on a Saturday night. The rain could taper off Saturday night before the calendar turns to 2023.

Earlier weather forecasts said widespread rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches are expected in northern and central California, but locally higher amounts of 5 to 7 inches are also possible for the foothills.

Northern California and the central California coast have already received 2 to 4 inches of rain in the past week. The cumulative effect of multiple Pacific storm systems loaded with moisture from a powerful atmospheric river will make impacts such as flash floods and landslides more likely.

Video and photos shared by the National Weather Service in San Francisco show fallen trees blocking roads and numerous landslides.

In Oakland, local authorities urged people to stay off the roads due to heavy rain and flooding.

“If you must travel, be careful. City crews are working through the backlog of reports of flooding and other weather impacts,” the city published on Twitter.

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