Friday, January 4, 2008

Storm Evening

Hurricane-force winds have battered the Bay Area with winds only slightly below hurricane strength blowing over the city and Golden Gate Bridge.

About two inches of rain has fallen in the city in the worst storm in two years. In towns around the Bay Area the damage is extensive with up to 8 inches of rainfall.

In total over one million people lost power and a huge effort is underway to restore service. Thousands of people are still without power tonight.

On NBC 11's early evening news filming in the Bay Area showed many trees down, a massive sea swell with dramatic shots of waves breaking over a bridge and, further afield, snow blizzards in the Sierra.

According to the San Fran Chronicle, the highest gusts in the Bay Area were measured at 107 mph with winds of 70 mph on the Golden Gate Bridge and 78 mph on Angel Island in the Bay. Trees in the Golden Gate Park including 'heritage trees' have suffered damage and about 400 street trees have also been affected.

In San Francisco during the storm this morning trains were disrupted and cable cars halted until later morning when branches from two trees fell onto the tracks. One of the main tram lines through the centre also stopped running because of a tree on the line. Elsewhere in the city scaffolding fell down. Some cars have been damaged but no-one has been killed, and the zoo has temporarily closed, reported the paper.

South of the city the wind seemed to be considerably lighter in some parts that were sheltered by buildings, and whilst many flights were cancelled or delayed, the airport did not completely shut down.

By this afternoon much of the city was surprisingly back to normal. I rode through the city on a cable car to Fisherman's Wharf. There were leaves and twigs strewing some of the pavements but in Union Square and on the Wharf the Christmas trees appeared undamaged.

At the Wharf
a straggle of tourists in yellow plastic rainwear made a doughty way down a gangway at 2.30 pm for the only bay cruise of the day.

Alcatraz and other ferries remained moored but at the Embarcadero monitors announced the resumption of services across the bay for later in the day.

A coffee shop employee at the Embarcadero described the day as 'disappointingly quiet' which probably sums up the city as a whole. While there were people on the streets it was far less populated.

Weather forecasters say that the worst is now over although quite heavy rain is expected to persist over the weekend with some thunderstorms possible over the city tomorrow.

Click for pics to see storm damage and the city in recovery - click on individual pics for larger views

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