Bay Area storm floods roads, brings down trees

The Bay Area emerged Thursday from a storm that flooded roads in areas, including San Francisco and Sonoma County, while knocking down trees that blocked traffic in the Santa Cruz mountains.

A flood watch remains in effect until early Friday morning for the Bay Area from the North Bay coast to the Monterey Bay and east to include the East Bay hills and Santa Clara Valley. There have also been lighting strikes reported in San Mateo County on Thursday. 

Some of the usual trouble spots in Sonoma County were again overwhelmed by the storm, including an area west of the Charles Schulz Sonoma County Airport. Fremont Drive, south of Sonoma, was shut due to flooding. In San Francisco, on Wednesday night, two cars got stuck after driving into standing water on John Muir Drive. Farther north, the Russian River overflowed in Hopland in Mendocino County.

Toppled trees caused damage. A girl was rescued after being trapped when a tree fell onto a pickup truck and took down power lines in Saratoga on Wednesday morning, the Santa Clara County Fire Department said.

A 30-foot tall Monterey Pine near Sutro Tower hit a home in San Francisco. No one was injured in Daly City when a tree crashed into an apartment building. In the Santa Cruz mountains, the California Highway Patrol warned about downed trees as well. In Soquel, a tall tree fell across Soquel San Jose Road.

"When the ground gets really saturated we have these rivers here in Santa Cruz County rise and fall quickly, so if there is nowhere for the water to go, they all flow down into the creek and that is where we see flooding. That is what we were worried about from this recent storm," said Jason Hoppin, a spokesperson from Santa Cruz County.

There are some rain-induced closures. The Oakland Zoo said it would remain closed Thursday because of the weather. The single elementary school that makes up the Kashia School District in Sonoma County will also be closed.

There was a power outage Wednesday in Marin County that affected 1,500 PG&E customers in Fairfax. PG&E said that the electricity was restored in about half an hour.

"The focus right now is the next round of rains. Although we're not expecting much, the amount of rainfall is continuing to keep the ground saturated and then our eyes are on the potential for a substantial storm next week," said Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal of the Santa Rosa Fire Department.

The biggest rainfalls were recorded in the North Bay — Lake Sonoma, Cazadero and Sleepy Hollow reported getting more than 4 inches of rain. Napa and San Francisco received almost 2 inches.

Operations Manager Linda Meyer says all the sand deliveries from earlier in the week went quickly, and she feels residents in this mountain community take the rain and the threat of flooding seriously every time big storms are expected.

"We are not concerned, but we are aware. And we prepare. So we get everything charged, our phone charged, and our chargers charged, and our lanterns charged. And we make sure to check outside if there is going to be runoff that it is blocked either with sandbags or a wattle," said Meyer.

Due to the conditions, emergency shelters and community centers were opened in Santa Cruz, Watsonville, San Rafael, Oakland, Santa Rosa and San Jose. 

After the heavy rain overnight, there will be off-and-on showers on Thursday. The most intense rainfall will occur in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. The Bay Area gets two days to dry out before the next storm arrives on Sunday.

KTVU reporters Mark Sayre and Tom Vacar contributed to this report.