Wednesday's storm expected to impact all forms of travel

The approaching atmospheric river is certain to make travel challenging, no matter how a person plans to get around.

Tuesday night travel on Hwy. 101 saw traffic moving slowly over mostly dry pavement. But Wednesday, experts said the commute is likely to be more of a slog than a crawl.

"If you know it takes you 30 minutes to get from point A to point B, and you try to get that 30 minutes tomorrow, it’s more than likely not going to happen," said Andrew Barclay, a California Highway Patrol officer in the Golden Gate Division. 

An encore edition of Saturday’s super soaker is slated to slam the Bay Area Wednesday. In addition to roadways, railways will also be impacted.

"There’s a lot things that could go wrong with a big storm like this. A big concern would be power loss over flooding. Or trees falling across the tracks," said Dan Lieberman, a Caltrain spokesman.

He said staffers are slotted for 12-hour rotational shifts.

Over the weekend, the transit agency’s 34 trains recorded two delays. Wednesday there are 104 trains, and a greater potential for problems.

Permanent and portable pumps are positioned to drain excess water, to keep the wheels rolling.

"We’ve also got the chainsaws primed and ready to take care of any trees that fall on the tracks. We’ve got our generators ready to restore power to the signal system if we have a problem there," said Lieberman.

BART officials said they’ve been preparing for Wednesday since Saturday.

"We’ll have extra staffing at those stations that we know are prone to flooding and extra rain seeping in. We’re clearing out sub-pumps. That’s what we’re doing right now to prepare for this big storm," said chief spokeswoman Alicia Trost. 

However, she conceded a deluge could cause delays, by damaging the wheels under BART trains.

"It’s a flat spot on wheels. And it can happen when even the slightest bit of rain can cause wheels to flatten. Especially on our yellow Antioch line. And our blue line to Dublin," she said, adding there will be 10-to-20 minute delays, so trains can run slower, saving wheels from developing flat spots.

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San Francisco International Airport officials said their preparations are focused on drainage, to minimize potential tarmac and runway flooding. But they also said delays are likely.

Mineta San Jose International Airport officials said their teams will patrol during the storm, to minimize damage to the terminal and aircraft.

On the water, the San Francisco Bay Ferry, which serves 6,000 passengers daily, has already suspended Wednesday service on some of its lines: The South San Francisco Terminal and the Harbor Bay Terminal in Alameda. Golden Gate Ferry has canceled service to Angel Island for Jan. 4. 

But not due to forecast heavy rainfall, but wind.

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"Rain doesn’t really cause too much of a problem for us," said spokesman Thomas Hall. "Typically southerly winds make landings there really tricky. And so see that’s going to be the case for all of the afternoon, for arrivals and departures, so we’re proactively suspending service."

Bay Ferry officials said their passengers should allow extra time. And all the mass transit providers suggest following their Twitter Alerts for delays.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on Twitter, @JesseKTVU and Instagram, @jessegontv