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How the biggest storm in years affected the Bay

Ben Trefny
City workers siphon water out of flooded buildings in San Francisco's Mission District

Today’s storm disrupted lives up and down the Bay Area, knocking down trees, flooding roadways, and cutting power to tens of thousands of people.

The heaviest rain has fallen in the North Bay, with reports of significant flooding in Fairfax, Novato, and Rohnert Park. Parts of Sonoma County took on nearly 8 inches of rain, and people broke out kayaks to traverse a Healdsburg parking lot.

Residents felt the effects all around the Bay Area. Most public school districts, including San Francisco and Oakland Unified, shut down in anticipation of the storm. That actually helped lighten the average traffic load, though several freeways temporarily shut down after lanes became impassable. That included Highway 101 near Oyster Point, just north of San Francisco International Airport. And SFO, itself, canceled more than 200 flights this morning.

More than 150,000 PG&E customers lost power, today, including KALW’s Julie Caine, who awoke to the sound of an explosion this morning. About 35,000 had it back by afternoon.

The storm is being propelled by tropical moisture pushing up from the South Pacific. It’s a phenomenon called a “Pineapple Express.” Rain is expected through tonight with coastal and flash flood warning in effect across the Bay Area.

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Ben joined KALW in 2004. As Executive News Editor and then News Director, he helped the news department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He also helped teach hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today.