Powerful storm hits Bay Area, will continue to strengthen into evening hours

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By Bay City News Service

A powerful storm made landfall in the Bay Area on Wednesday, causing flooding and other problems around the region.

After off-and-on rain earlier this week, heavier rain and strong winds hit the Bay Area midday Wednesday, with mountainous parts of Sonoma County receiving the most rain so far with 4.76 inches since midnight, National Weather Service forecaster Steve Anderson said.

Winds have been as strong as 50-60 mph in some higher elevations in the region, Anderson said.

The strong winds and rain should begin to decrease by the early morning hours Thursday, he said.

The stormy weather caused problems including the closure of BART's underground Civic Center station in San Francisco after a leak from the San Francisco Municipal Railway station above it.

The closure was reported at 2:49 p.m. and trains were traveling through the station without stopping until it reopened around 3:25 p.m., according to BART.

Great Highway on the west end of San Francisco was also closed between Lincoln and Sloat boulevards because of the storm, according to the city's Department of Public Works.

A fatal three-car collision was reported shortly before 3 p.m. on state Highway 121 near the Sonoma-Napa county line, according to the California Highway Patrol.

CHP Officer Hannah Walcott said there have been reports of flooding on various highways around the region.        

Walcott encouraged people to slow down on the roads, not follow the motorist in front of them too closely, and to make sure to have headlights on in rainy weather.

"The headlights have to be on," she said. "With the rain and reflection, you can't see those cars at all."