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Storm brings fatalities, flooding, waves, and more warnings

At least five dead after Wednesday deluge

Rain covering a highway in South San Francisco. Photo by Sundry Photography

After a day of borderline disastrous weather conditions in the Bay Area thanks to a storm that contributed to at least five deaths across the north state, the Thursday forecast calls for even more rain, more winds, more waves, and more danger.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that four people died on Northern California highways on Wednesday after rain-related accidents, and another fatality occurred in Oakland due to a falling tree.

Also on Wednesday a big-rig truck flipped over on the San Rafael bridge and briefly closed two lanes. Winds were even more violent than forecast, topping out at 98 miles per hour in some parts of the North Bay.

The SF Department of Public Works (DPW) says that “crews have been working around the clock to clear downed trees and large branches” around the city.

DPW also notes that as of Thursday morning the Great Highway remains closed to southbound traffic between Lincoln and Sloat thanks to continued flooding, with no estimate provided for reopening.

The forecast for Thursday calls for even more rain, part of what the National Weather Service (NWS) calls “the last and strongest in a week-long parade of Pacific storms [that’s pounded] California with a variety of hazards, including heavy rainfall, mountain snow and flooding near recent wildfire burn scars.”

Thursday’s forecast also includes a “chance of thunderstorm.”
Photo by Eric Ward

With Thursday’s winter havoc comes a high-surf warning for the entire coast, from Point Reyes to Monterey:

Large breaking waves along the coast will lead to increased wave run-up on beaches with waves topping and washing over large rocks and jetties. They can easily move large logs and other beach debris and cause localized beach erosion.

Use extreme caution near the surf zone as these large waves will be capable of sweeping people into the frigid and turbulent ocean water. Cold water shock may cause cardiac arrest, and it also can cause an involuntary gasp reflex causing drowning, even for a good swimmer.

The surf zone will be very dangerous due to strong currents and powerful breaking waves.

The wave warning lasts until 5 p.m. Friday. Notably, the NWS forecast predicts that rain will break on Friday, though a less powerful storm may appear over the weekend.

An accompanying Thursday Coastal Flood Warning expired at 9 a.m. on Thursday but may still have some residual effects in “low-lying areas along the immediate coast, bay front, marshes and sloughs,” which “may experience minor flooding.”

A flash flood watch is in effect until around 4 p.m. in some sections of California north of Sacramento. A map of the affected area is available here.