Flights Canceled, Schools Shut Down, Widespread Power Failures in California as ‘Storm of the Decade’ Rolls In

High winds and rains lashed the Golden Gate Bridge, as viewed from Sausalito, Calif., on Thursday. The storm is expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years. (Credit: Eric Risberg/Associated Press)
High winds and rains lashed the Golden Gate Bridge, as viewed from Sausalito, Calif., on Thursday. The storm is expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years. (Credit: Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

San Francisco Bay area residents, bedeviled by water restrictions and arid farmland and after three consecutive years of drought, had a different problem Thursday as a major rainstorm pushed across northern California, flooding roads and towns, toppling trees and knocking out power to tens of thousands of houses and businesses.

The storm, one of the windiest and rainiest in five years, was expected to last at least through Thursday.

Diana Henderson, a forecaster with the The National Weather Service, said the storm was inching along. “That’s part of the problem,” she said. “The rain is over one spot for a prolonged period.”

The ;Montgomery Street Bay Area Rapid Transit station, which serves the financial district, was shut down this morning. A spokesman for Bay Area Rapid Transit said an electrical transformer appeared to have malfunctioned High winds canceled some ferry service east of San Francisco.

In Woodacre, north of San Francisco, the National Weather Service reported two inches of rain by midmorning. A flash flood warning was issued for Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Drains in some communities were backing up. Tree branches clattered onto roofs and wind chimes belled as outdoor holiday decorations took a beating in the high winds.

Schools in San Francisco, Oakland and Marin counties shut down Thursday before the heaviest rainfall began, with administrators fearing that students heading to school could be endangered.

At San Francisco International Airport, where winds were measured at 48 miles an hour Thursday morning, more than 200 flights were canceled.

U.S. Coast Guard officials warned people living near water to take precautions.

Pacific Gas & Electric substation was knocked out in San Francisco, causing 80,000 customers to lose power. Most are expected to be back online later Thursday a company spokesman said. Over 5,000 homes were dark in the town of Sebastapol.

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SOURCE: CAROL POGASH 
The New York Times

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