Bay Area storm intensifies, bringing heavy rain and high winds

A wet and windy storm system is making its way through the Bay Area on Wednesday, bringing expected flooding, and the potential for more mudslides, downed trees and power lines. 

The most intense rainfall was expected to hit between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The atmospheric river, also known as a pineapple express, is a relatively fast-moving system that drags up moisture from the tropical Pacific Ocean region around Hawaii. 

Roadway flooding has been seen in parts of the Bay Area. However, forecasters said the storm is moving fast enough, which could be a "saving grace" in terms of flooding. 

In Sonoma County, where there was flooding, vehicles encountered some treacherous conditions about a mile west of the Charles Schulz Sonoma Airport. Windsor Creek saw major flooding. 

Fairfax saw a brief power outage that affected about 1,500 customers. Pacific Gas and Electric was able to resolve the outage in about half an hour. 

Fortunately, there were no reports of any flooding problems at the Russian River, Napa River or San Anselmo River. 

In San Francisco, residents and business owners kept a careful eye on the steady rain. 

San Francisco Department of Emergency Management sent an alert just before 9 p.m. to avoid the area of John Muir Drive due to flooding and that emergency crews were on scene. 

The SF Fire Department said two vehicles drove into standing water and that those vehicles became disabled. The fire department assisted the drivers by pushing their vehicles to safety. The vehicles were eventually towed. One of the drivers told the fire department the water was at their vehicle's hood level. 

Shortly after that initial alert, another flood alert was issued for the area of Toland Street at Evans and Galvez avenues near the Bayview District. Once again, emergency crews responded. 

The city's Mission District is one of the low-lying areas prone to flooding. City officials said they have taken precautionary measures. Crews with SF Public Utilities Commission have put up what's described as flood barriers and made sure the storm drains are clear. 

In San Francisco, people are urged to call 311 if storm-related issues are minor. They should call 911 if the issue is dangerous or life-threatening, such as a downed power line. 

As the day wore on, the rain shifted to the East and South Bay around 8 p.m. 

In Santa Clara County, residents were urged to take caution as the storm moves through. Residents we spoke with were mostly concerned with downed trees. 

Watch live weather updates from KTVU at 2 PM, 3 PM and 9 PM on Wednesday by clicking the player above. 

After last year's barrage of atmospheric rivers, Santa Clara Valley Water officials said crews started preparing for this year's winter storms during the summer. Valley Water has been clearing sediment from creeks and will monitor the situation. 

A Flood Watch issued by the National Weather Service stretches across the Bay Area. Shallow landslides are also possible with the coming rainfall. 

The NWS has issued a Wind Advisory for the entire Bay Area, and a High Wind Warning for coastal areas stretching from Cloverdale down to Big Sur as well as the East Bay.

Sustained winds of 40 mph are expected, but gusts could hit 70 mph or more in higher-elevation areas. 

The high winds coupled with the ground already saturated from recent wet weather means waterlogged trees could come down. 

As storms have shown recently, downed trees could also lead to power outages. 

Another strong storm system is expected to head into the Bay Area on Sunday. That storm could have more significant impacts than the current one, given the region's already swollen waterways and saturated soils. 

For more detailed forecast information in your area, download the KTVU Weather App, which shows live radar and hourly forecasts. 

Meanwhile, the governor's office activated the state operations center of the California Office of Emergency Services, or Cal OES, triggering the coordination of federal, state and local agencies in response to the string of storms over the next few weeks and their potential effects. 

Viewers are also able to use the KTVU Weather App to share photos of the storm. 

Bay City News contributed to this report.