Storm sets records

The storm that struck Thursday night triggered more than 700 lightning strikes around the Bay Area, set new records for rainfall and left thousands without power, officials said today.

The National Weather Service recorded 750 lightning strikes overnight in the area extending from the North Bay to Monterey County, an unusually high number for one storm, according to meteorologist Chris Stumpf.

That total includes strikes that occurred off the coast.

Several areas saw new records set for rainfall on Thursday, breaking previous records set in 2003, Stumpf said.

Downtown San Francisco received 1.24 inches of rain on Thursday, breaking the previous record for April 12 of 0.92 inches. Downtown Oakland got 1.26 inches, well above the previous record of 0.59 inches. Oakland International Airport got 1.2 inches, shattering the previous record of 0.77 inches.

The storm helped increase rainfall for what has generally been a dry year, but totals still remain well below average for this time of year, Stumpf said.

"I know a lot of places are sitting around 60 percent of normal for this time of year, but we're still nowhere near where we were last year," Stumpf said. "Last year we were either at or above 100 percent for many places."

The worst of the storm has passed, but some light showers could still occur today. However, baseball fans worried about rain affecting the San Francisco Giants' home opener this afternoon should relax, Stumpf said.

"If anything, it's going to be a brief shower, it's not going to end the game," he said. "Although later in the afternoon we're going to see some strong winds push through, so it might get breezy toward the end of the game."

Thursday's storm caused flight delays, mudslides, minor flooding and power outages around the Bay Area, but much of that is starting to clear up today.

At San Francisco International Airport, 60 flights were canceled on Thursday, including one London-bound United Airlines flight that turned around after it was struck by lightning.

Today there are about half a dozen flights departing about an hour behind schedule as the airport catches up from Thursday night, but most flights are on time, airport duty manager Nancy Parker said.

"It's normal operations for a rainy day," Parker said. "Actually, better than normal."

The storm also caused power outages throughout the Bay Area, but the majority of those have been resolved, according to PG&E.

As of about 10:30 a.m., there were no outages in the North Bay, around 270 customers out in San Francisco, around 120 on the Peninsula, 760 in the East Bay and 250 in the South Bay, PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said.

"Our crews have been working very hard through the night to restore any outages that remain from this spring storm," she said.

Perhaps the most dramatic damage caused by the storm occurred in Piedmont, where a mudslide in the Blair Park area reported at 7 a.m. today brought down trees and closed Moraga Avenue.

The California Highway Patrol has also reported some lingering flooding on freeway connector ramps in the Hayward and San Francisco areas.

After a week of rain, the weekend is expected to be clear and breezy, with temperatures increasing into the next week, Stumpf said.


Like this comment
Posted by Seer Clearly
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 14, 2012 at 9:28 am

Our weather this year is following the pattern that the climatologists have told us we'd expect from Global Warming: much less precipitation, with more of it falling as rain instead of bankable snow deposits, and much of the rain we do get arriving in far more violent, flooding storms. Essentially this is the weather you see 500 miles south in Baja California, which is a desert with huge sandy gullies from all the large storms.

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