SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco is drying out and preparing for the next round of storms. Thursday's storm blew in during the early morning hours, dumping rain throughout the city.
The storm brought down a large ficus tree on Mission Street near South Van Ness.
"The good news is there were no injuries, no property damage, other than a large light pole came down and the Muni lines came down as well," said Rachel Gordon from San Francisco's Department of Public Works. "So, the impact is that Muni, the Mission Street buses had to be re-routed for that."
Public works crews scrambled to cut the tree and clear the lanes. More crews are on standby in case there is more damage from the storm.
The city says urban foresters will come out to examine other trees in the area to see if they also may be prone to collapse. "We know that ficus trees are more vulnerable to failure," Gordon said. "We saw that today. We think that with this one, it wasn't wind that brought it down, but it was the saturation of the ground and then the heavy canopy on it."
The storm made navigating through the city challenging.
Commuters had to contend with standing water on the Central Freeway. The rainwater also turned many of the surface streets into rivers. City workers scrambled from one intersection to the next, working to clear clogged catch basins.
"It started out slow, but once people started waking up, the calls came in for clogged catch basins flooding and stuff," said Paul Quibell from San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission. "So, that's what we're doing now.
"Workers said they would encounter one flooded intersection even while trying to get to another. "We were headed to Jones and Sutter, and we found four just along our way getting there and this is the first one we've actually had to use the truck to clean out," said Quibell. "The others we could just rake the debris off the catch basin."
Around the city, people navigated in the rain, stepping over puddles and hustling to get to their destinations. Drought conscious people said the rain is a welcome sight, even if it makes exercising a little chilly. "Love it when it happens, hate it when it's gone," said Jeff Darling.
"Hate it when it happens, love it when it's gone."
While San Francisco is drying out, preparations are already underway for the next round of storms set to hit the Bay Area in just a matter of days. The city is asking people to clear those catch basins if they see any debris that could slow the drainage of water from the next storm.
Meanwhile, in Marin County the moderately severe storm ended with surprisingly good results. Fortunately, Pacific Gas and Electric customers had few problems in the North Bay.
"PG&E meteorologists have been tracking the storm for days and we expected it to be quite strong. As it approached, the impacts were much less significant that we expected and it was downgraded from a category three in some areas to a category two," said PG&E Public Information Officer Megan McFarland.
The utility's electric system, vulnerable to falling branches and winds, had very few outages; the overwhelming majority of them affecting less than 50 customers each.
"Often times when we do see a storm coming in and we know there's gonna be high winds, we'll step up our tree trimming even more in the days of the storm approaching so that can help cut down on the outages," said McPartland. Power line inspections and maintenance have hardened the system.
Water is another matter. Stung by flooding last year, San Rafael's Fourth Street merchants sand bagged up. "Last year we had it flooded right here. We had to put sandbags out because one of the drains over here must have been clogged. But, yeah, it could get ugly," said Wrap N Kabob Restaurant Owner Chris Kimiyaie.
One of the benefits of the rain: more water in storage for a county that's had good weather luck last year and this year. This can be best seen at Marin's Phoenix Reservoir.
Now if this reservoir were to go up just another two to three feet, something that could easily happen in a massive storm, then it would overflow and go out the spillway. There is would go down stream, some to be caught, but the majority of it going out into the bay.
Still one Marin resident said the only real solution for the Bay Area is desalination. "I read an article a while back that said that each household would have to pick up another four bucks a month which I would have no problem with and, a lot of people I've talked to said they wouldn't either," said Marin resident Al Euphrat.
The storm approaching this weekend does not appear to PG&E at least, to be much of a threat.