December storm comes with freeze warning, potential floods & power outages
SAN RAFAEL - Bay Area residents are bracing for Thursday's storm that brings the potential for flooding, strong gusts, power outages, and freezing temperatures.
Sonoma County health officials have issued a freeze warning. Overnight lows are expected to dip to the upper 20s to lower 30s. Officials said prolonged exposure to the cold could lead to hypothermia.
At Los Moles Hecho en Casa Restaurant in downtown San Rafael, workers were taking down lights for their outdoor dining area. The manager Jose Chi says it's because the city is no longer allowing parklets, but it also comes just as Thursday's big storm is expected to blow in bringing powerful gusts of wind and rain.
"We always worry about the storm. Business is very slow," said Chi.
The manager says timing couldn't be worse for business and he says San Rafael is prone to flooding.
"Every time when that happens," said Chi, "That corner all the way down to Woodland."
Pacific Gas & Electric said up to 40,000 of its customers across the Bay Area are expected to lose power during Thursday's storm.
"Our own in-house meteorology department, it sort of calibrates storm size against customer outages, is predicting in the neighborhood of 40,000 customers affected across the greater Bay Area," PG&E Bay Area Regional Vice President Aaron Johnson, said.
PG&E says people living in San Mateo County will likely be affected most by the expected outages.
Experts say the storm will be good practice for PG&E.
The storm will bring wind gusts of 30 to 40 miles per hour.
"We'll see limbs coming off trees, downed branches, potentially even trees falling over into out lines," Johnson said. "That's usually the number one thing that impacts the electrical system."
PG&E says they have reinforcements on standby.
"We are bringing crews from all over the system staged and ready to come here and support," Johnson said.
Stormy conditions are expected to start Wednesday night. Some areas could get about an inch of rain, with some locations like higher elevations of the North Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains, receiving more.
In downtown San Rafael, the owner of Wrap and Kebab Restaurant says last fall a similar storm caused flooding in many downtown businesses.
"It was coming in there. It was really up to here. We're so lucky we caught it," said the owner Chris Kimiyaie, pointing to the floor halfway into the restaurant where the water had entered last year.
"I'm just worried that the same thing could happen that it's going to get backed up," said Kimiyaie, "It was crazy, the whole neighborhood was just flooded."
"Usually, we have to put up sandbags along the doors or around here. Sometimes the drains are clogged," said Cesar Munoz, owner of Downtown Barbers in San Rafael, "I'll probably come in later tonight if it's raining really hard."