Published November 30, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO – The second in a series of storms slammed Northern California on Friday as heavy rain and strong winds knocked out power, tied up traffic and caused flooding along some stretches.
The weather also may be behind the death of a Pacific Gas & Electric worker in West Sacramento who was killed after his truck crashed into a traffic signal pole during the stormy weather.
A flash flood watch will remain in effect for most of the San Francisco Bay area extending to the Santa Cruz Mountains throughout the weekend. A constant barrage of heavy to moderate downpours could lead to standing water and numerous drains being flooded, said Diana Henderson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Monterey.
The North Bay was seemingly hit the hardest as parts of Sonoma County received more than 7.5 inches of rain and areas in Napa County received nearly 6 inches, Henderson said.
"It's not a superstorm by any measure, but this is pretty significant," she said. "We should see periods of moderate to heavy rains."
Thousands of people were without power in the area after an outage that also affected the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The suspension span of the bridge was briefly in the dark as traffic was backed up longer than usual due to the wet weather and wind gusts of nearly 40 mph.
Also, a mudslide shut down a stretch of Highway 84 east of Fremont, the California Highway Patrol reported. There was no estimate on when it would reopen.
In Sacramento, Interstate 5 south of downtown was blocked in both directions before 9 a.m. Friday after an empty big-rig jackknifed in the southbound lanes and struck the median divider, the CHP said.
"I would definitely say it's weather-related. The reports came in that he hit a water puddle and hydroplaned and couldn't correct," CHP Officer Mike Bradley said. "A lot of high-profile vehicles, especially the lighter ones, are getting windblown and having some problems maintaining their lane. They're not blowing off the roadway, and nothing's tipped over."
No one was injured in the crash on I-5, California's main north-south highway. But a second vehicle also was damaged and had to be towed, while workers contained and cleaned up diesel fuel spilled from the tractor-trailer.
In west Sacramento, police say wet conditions may have been a factor when a PG&E worker died after he lost control of his vehicle and slammed into a traffic pole shortly before 2 a.m. Friday.
PG&E workers at the scene tell KCRA-TV that the driver had been working overtime and was returning from Clarksburg in southern Sacramento County.
The traffic signal pole was damaged and was being replaced before traffic could begin using the intersection.
Henderson said rain is expected to taper a bit on Saturday, but return later that night into Sunday, heavier at times. The storms could also create the possibility of rock and mud slides in areas already saturated and have been affected by wild fires earlier this summer.
Elsewhere in the West, a storm rushed through southern Oregon this week, lingering inland over the Rogue Valley and dropping record rainfall.
It largely spared coastal Curry County on Thursday and its southernmost city, Brookings, which are recovering from a storm earlier this month.
"We are still vigilant for landslides and road closures and trees down, but so far — knock on wood — we are still good to go," Curry County Sheriff John Bishop said Friday.
Forecasters said the region should expect more storm systems in the next few days.
Associated Press writers Terry Collins in San Francisco and Don Thompson in Sacramento contributed to this report.