UPDATED: Storm soaks Alameda

UPDATED: Storm soaks Alameda

Michele Ellson

Updated at 8:55 a.m. Friday, December 12

A storm dumped more than three inches of rain on Alameda on Thursday morning, flooding roads and downing trees across the Island. But Alameda appears to have escaped the heavier flooding and power outages experienced by some other Bay Area cities.

"We dodged the bullet," Alameda Public Works Director Bob Haun said. "Overall, I think we came out all right."

City officials and Island residents reported some flooded homes and streets and a handful of downed trees Thursday, a fraction of the damage some feared the storm would cause. As of 8 a.m., more than three inches had fallen over 24 hours at Oakland International Airport, the National Weather Service's closest data collection spot. But the high winds predicted by the National Weather Service didn't materialize here.

Alameda Point and Mariner Square Drive - which typically flood during heavy rains - were both covered by inches of water as the rain fell Thursday morning. Chapin and St. Charles streets between Eagle Avenue and the future Jean Sweeney Open Space Park were each covered by close to a foot of water, and other areas of the Island, including Clement Street, experienced flooding.

Residents like Kimberlee MacVicar reported flooding in their yards; Haun said a pair of homes were flooded due to the rains. Alameda's lagoons - particularly Seaplane Lagoon - rose as the rain fell Thursday morning, with the waters in Seaplane Lagoon lapping against Artemis Racing's docks. Haun said his department "opened a couple of choke points" to bring the flooding down.

Haun said the city got 20 calls about downed trees and limbs, including five full trees down. Readers submitted photographs of downed trees in Crown Harbor and on Alameda Avenue.

A representative for Alameda Municipal Power said the electric company hadn't received any reports of power outages or downed lines Thursday. Nearly 100,000 customers across the Bay Area reportedly woke up without power Thursday; 80,000 were affected by a PG&E substation outage in San Francisco.

Schools and ferry service were canceled Thursday in anticipation of the storms, which were forecast to dump inches of rain and bring wind gusts that could top 80 m.p.h. in higher elevations. Schools will be open on Friday, district officials told parents in an automated call Thursday afternoon. And ferry service in Alameda and across the Bay Area, canceled Thursday morning due to the storms, was reinstated for afternoon and evening runs.

"Expect delays and slower than normal transit times," a press release from the ferry service issued Thursday afternoon says. "We will continue to monitor the weather and advise of any specific cancellations as storm conditions dictate."

The storms reportedly caused the cancellations of hundreds of flights in and out of San Francisco International Airport; no flights to or from Oakland airport were canceled.

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for Alameda and other Bay Area counties until 6 p.m. Thursday and a coastal flood warning that will remain in effect until 7 p.m. Thursday. The warnings tell drivers to expect minor roadway flooding during the evening rush hour commute and not to drive through water and also warns of rising water along the coast. A flash flood watch is in effect until 4 a.m. Friday.

The weather service is forecasting showers and a possible thunderstorm with light winds tonight and Friday, with the rains tapering off Friday night and a sunny day Saturday.

City officials are asking anyone seeking to report flooding or downed tree limbs to call the city's public works department at 747-7900 during weekdays and the Alameda Police Department at 337-8340 after 6 p.m. and on weekends.

Alameda Municipal Power has activated its storm preparedness plan in anticipation of potential power outages. Customers who experience an electrical outage anywhere on the Island or a phone outage at Alameda Point can call 748-3900 to report it during regular business hours or 748-3902 after hours. The utility is also asking anyone who sees a downed power line to report it to them or the police department.

The utility offered safety tips in case of outages or downed power lines which include:

· Never go near a downed power line and never touch trees or any other obstacles in contact with the power lines.
· Keep flashlights, a battery-powered radio and fresh batteries in an easily accessible place.
· Do not use candles for lighting. Candles are one of the top causes of household fires.
· Turn off major appliances and unplug other electronics, like TVs and computers. This will prevent damage to them if there’s a power surge when electricity returns.
· Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food in the fridge will last 24 hours except dairy products, which should be discarded after six hours.
· Never plug portable or auxiliary generators into a wall outlet. The electricity generated by a generator can start a fire and can also feed back into the utility system and seriously injure or kill a utility line worker. Portable generators should be placed in a well-ventilated area.

The Alamedan will continue to monitor the approaching storm and provide updates, here and on our Twitter feed. Here are our storm tweets and yours, so far.


Submitted by David (not verified) on Thu, Dec 11, 2014

Very curious just how much protection one could do with just five sandbags - the limit of free sandbags offered by the City of Alameda.
Or were more available for sale?

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Dec 11, 2014

That was it, as far as I know of.

Submitted by Sarah H (not verified) on Thu, Dec 11, 2014

They didn't do much. I was grateful to receive the four sandbags I got, although they look very sad and pathetic against my garage door in the middle of my nearly fully flooded backyard.

Submitted by Denisea (not verified) on Thu, Dec 11, 2014

Anyone know if the Tube is still open? If so, is traffic moving ok?

Submitted by Tom (not verified) on Thu, Dec 11, 2014

What a weak and useless group we and our society have become. This rain storm brings us rain and wind of what was considered normal for residents of the Bay Area over many of the last 50 years and longer.

Our crazy incessant weather media blitzes have turned our youth and younger adults into absolute imbeciles. In past decades we always knew when it rained in the fall or winter here in the east bay we must be ready for downed trees, mud slides and flooding.

Now we close our schools and frighten our populations to not venture out to experience the magic of a major storm.

Today in the morning It was a magnificent out in the city of Alameda experiencing the water wind and rain. Of course one needs to be properly prepped and dressed….and use care and good risk judgements in this process. But certainly much more exciting and life giving than watching all the weather casters mostly nonsensical talking head reports.

Tides were not a problem here only + 6 feet. Today. The King tides on 21, 22 December are only going to be +7 foot. It takes a king tide of +8 foot with strong southerly and large runoff from the delta and local streams to create interesting problems here in Alameda. Then it really gets interesting!

I do hope some of you, your kids and grand kids ventured out today to enjoy the experiences of our fantastic inclement weather!, for me it is always a renewal.


Submitted by Susan J (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

@ Tom. Thank you. I was afraid I was the only one shaking my head in disbelief.
Compared to the rains of '81-82 this is lightweight. I can't believe the schools closed for this. However, the fantastic,fear mongering frenzy of the media fed the fright. Whatever happened to level headed news reporting?

Submitted by Tom (not verified) on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Susan, thanks for the feedback and rational input to normal meteorologic events:

The pics presented here on this posting for this rain storm are the norm for areas low and with poor drainage in Alameda. Eagle, Chapin, Clement, St Charles are always subject to flooding even in much milder storms. I have seen this many times in the last 20 years all exactly the same.....so its not exactly earth shattering news.

One just has to live here a few years to understand what to expect in heavy rains. After all we live on an man created Island, much of which was marsh and bay before the white man altered its shores.

The sand bag give away has me mystified.......Five sandbags won't do much to control water flow maybe only for one door way and then one would need at least six or seven bags laid 3 length wise and doubled with another 4 on top.......Oh well so much for most residents of Alameda understanding the topography of where they live and what to expect when one lives in the low land areas of Alameda.....

Perhaps those living in the low areas should always have hundreds of bags and sand piles ready for winter storms....But that is another issue and most humans never prep for the extremes of our weather.

Can't wait for more rain this season...

Submitted by marvie (not verified) on Sat, Dec 13, 2014

I was another one surprised they actually closed schools all over the Bay Area......Was this a first? I don't recall schools closed due to rain and wind before.........Gee, they act as though it was hurricane or tornado weather......very strange, indeed...sometimes I suspect the teachers and school administrators like the time off...

Submitted by Kim MacV (not verified) on Sat, Dec 13, 2014

I have a child in an Alameda elementary school. Given how news reports were saying 60+ mph winds on top of the projected rain for this storm, I was relieved the schools closed. Trying to get her safely to school during the time when it was projected to be at its heaviest downfall, was not appealing. It would have forced more cars on road with very little visibility. Even on good days, there's a level of danger getting to school as far too many drivers ignore crossing guards (but that's another article).

It was smart to close the schools because what if the power had gone out? There was no guarantee schools would have had power given how high the winds could have been and that our wires are above ground, plus flooding. Could school lunches have reached the schools? (School lunches are prepared elsewhere.)

We'll have to make that day up later but I'm glad my daughter was home...even if she started bouncing off the walls.