Highway 101 in Menlo Park shut for PG&E repairs

A stretch of Highway 101 that was abruptly shut Thursday afternoon in Menlo Park to allow Pacific Gas & Electric to make urgent repairs is due to reopen in the evening.

Despite the lanes being reopened before evening, residual backup from the closure will cause delays to the thousands of cars stuck on the freeway.

The highway closed in both directions from between Marsh Road and Willow Road, causing problems for commuters.

A tree had fallen during the wind storm earlier this week and snapped a power line that spans the 101.

The utility estimates the repair work will be finished by 4:45 p.m.

WEATHER COVERAGE: Snow sightings in San Jose, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz mountains

Several parts of the Bay Area and the Santa Cruz Mountains were impacted by heavy winds earlier this week, and with the arrival of snow and precipitation, those elements could only complicate matters, according to PG&E. 

The utility said snow, much-like heavy winds, can cause trees and limbs to topple. And vegetation continues to be the main cause of outages. As of 4 p.m., the utility said their total number of Bay Area outages stood at 21,497. 

Even as crews work to remove downed trees and repair broken transformers and power poles, another storm system is on the horizon. 

"Due to the severe and complex nature of the elements at hand, this has the potential to become a major winter storm with significant outage activity in parts of the Bay Area," said PG&E in a statement. 

The utility anticipates there could be significant outages in the North Bay and the already hard-hit areas of the Peninsula, South Bay and Santa Cruz Mountains.