Bay Area receives much-needed measurable rainfall

A soggy Saturday sees San Jose sewage maintenance crews clearing storm drains of debris. Officials say rain and winds during so-called “leaf drop” season can lead to damage in some cases, and localized flooding.

“If a number of leaves accumulate in the gutter, they can get washed into the catch basin and cause a clog,” said Jennifer Seguin, division manager for the San Jose Sewer Maintenance Program.

Friday night and into Saturday, light but steady rain falls across the Bay Area.

San Jose State University Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Alison Bridger says enjoy the wet weather while you can. The influence of La Nina could mean a dryer winter. The usual pattern of three days wet, three or four dry isn’t panning out so far.

“You can’t talk about rain until  you get storms in here. We could have a series of weak storms. But if we have no storms, we’re not gonna get any rain,” said Dr. Bridger.

Experts say lack of rainfall is both a curse and blessing for bone dry areas that have been burned by a series of wildfires.

“Our concern is the amount of rainfall. So what we’re looking for is some steady rain, and minimal amounts of rain totals,” said Santa Rosa Fire Dept. Asst. Marshall Paul Lowenthal.

He said scorched earth can’t absorb rainfall. So the water runs off the soil, leading to slides, flows, and damage.

“Because we’ve had this slow start in these few smaller storms, that actually will help allow the soil to absorb a little bit more moisture. Although it still will not absorb the same amount of moisture it would have prior to the fire,” said Dr. Laura Sullivan-Green, chairwoman of the San Jose State University Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Added Lowenthal, “Right now we’re taking advantage of these systems to educate our communities on what the risks are.”

In Sonoma County, officials are doing outreach, giving away protective measures such as soil waddles to help prevent mudslides and debris flows as rainy season wears on.