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Storm warning issued by Palo Alto police

Original post made on Jan 25, 2008

The Palo Alto Police Department has issued a storm warning to residents through its emergency notification system because of a forecasted two inches of rain plus high winds expected Friday afternoon and night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 25, 2008, 11:41 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by Gardner, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 25, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Adobe creek at Greer is about a foot from the bridge. Is the cam working? There is no time stamp on it.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 25, 2008 at 4:07 pm

The Creek monitor certainly doesn't show a crisis at the bridge. Is it working - and which bridge does it monitor?

Posted by L., a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 25, 2008 at 4:34 pm

The SF creek at W. Bayshore is also very near the top. There were a few ducks swimming around that were darn near eye level when I drove by. Somewhat disconcerting.

Posted by Gardner, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 25, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Oops, I meant Matadero Creek at Greer.

Posted by creek watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Gardner, Kate and L:
The Creek monitoring data is not the web cam but the graph on the right. This is hard to read with out a magnifying glass on the main page but here is a link to a bigger, readable version:
Web Link

FYI there are 5 creek monitoring locations plus a monitoring station in the flood basin and -- very important -- the tide and the rainfall monitor in Foothill Park. A moving 12 hour trend line is shown.

There is a time stamp clearly on the graph. Readings are updated every two minutes -- you can watch it refresh.
Right now the tide is going out.

If you are in a flood zone, it would be a good idea for you to sign up for Palo Alto CANS phone alerts that will be activated in case of an actual emergency.

Here's the link for you to sign up, though unless it is automated, I would imagine it will be Monday before someone adds you to the secure data base:
Web Link
This takes you to info about the CANS -- scroll down to the bottom for the link to the sign up page.

Hope this information is also helpful to other readers.

Posted by Gardner, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 25, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Thanks for the info. I meant there was no time stamp on the webcam. I think my confusion is the little graphic of the bridges. The picture for Matadero creek is misleading, it appears that a 6.7 height is far from the bottom of the bridge when in fact it is quite close. I believe the graphic showing the "bridge" actually represents the top of the wall added a few years ago.

I imagine if the water level hit the leading edge of the bridge it could cause a decrease in flow rate and a build up.

Thanks also for the info on the alert system, I will sign up.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 25, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Is there any debris buildup at Chaucer bridge?

Posted by LB, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 25, 2008 at 7:34 pm

I've been watching the creek monitor. Am I being paranoid or does it look like the Chaucer St bridge is going to flood at some point tonight or tomorrow? Its at 11 ft and its not going to stop raining in the next 24 hrs? I am new to the neigborhood so I have no frame of reference.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 25, 2008 at 7:46 pm


At about 3:30 AM tommorrow morning the tide will be at it normal peak. If the rain continues, and if there is any debris buildup at Chaucer bridge, you are probably justified in your concerns.

Posted by LB, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 25, 2008 at 8:04 pm

Terrific. How can the city allow that bridge to persist when it poses such a significant risk to residents? I appreciate that its been raining all day but it hasn't been raining that hard (like it did 2 weeks ago). This must occur several/many times each year.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 25, 2008 at 8:12 pm


Actually, this steady rain is not all that typical. The ground is saturated by previous rains, so all of the rain is now runoff. The big flood of over a decade ago happen under similar circumstances, at the high tide mark. It was, however, pushed by an increased rain surge in this hills ("perfect storm"). Keep your fingers crossed.

I assume you purchased flood insurance?

Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 25, 2008 at 8:36 pm

We did not get any telephone call from the PAPD nor did we get one re: the smell of natural gas. Live near Channing and Newell.

Posted by Norman Beamer, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 25, 2008 at 10:16 pm

My guess is that even if the rain continues at this rate the Chaucer Bridge will not overflow. The closer the water gets to the top, the slower it rises, because the hydraulic head pushes the water through faster. There needs to be a much higher rainfall rate to push it over the top. The difference between being close to the top and over the top is huge -- and we aren't there yet. But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to be watching it closely!

Posted by Kathy, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 25, 2008 at 10:32 pm

We did not receive any telephone call either, but I had not actually signed up for the alert system as it HAD called me once before without sign-up. Thanks to creek watcher's helpful links, I have signed up now.

Thank you, cw!

Posted by Alice, a resident of University South
on Jan 25, 2008 at 11:22 pm

The afternoon CANS alert I got today both on my cell and my home numbers - plus by email - was for those in the Palo Alto Neighborhoods and the CERT/PANDAs and a few others who had registered last November to help the City during a state-wide emergency exercise. During that exercise, the City field tested the new CANS system for the first time. The City has only just started to roll out their effort to get everyone to register for the CANS alert system. Given how many phone numbers and email addresses many of us have here, registering how you want to be alerted is a great idea.

Posted by PV Resident, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 26, 2008 at 10:14 am

I got a call about the gas smell on my cell phone, house phone, and email. I signed up for text message on my cell but didn't get that which is what I would prefer. When it came to the storm warning yesterday, I only got an email. I thought I had signed up to get the CANS warnings, but my experience shows that either it has a few glitches still or else it is very localised in the areas it can reach by choice. I still would prefer text messages though.

Posted by Kevin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 26, 2008 at 12:10 pm

" the hydraulic head pushes the water through faster"

Norman Beamer,

I believe you are talking about the hydaulic head between the top of the creek at Chaucer bridge and the level of the Bay. Correct? There is very little head differential between one side of the bridge and the other. As the tide rises, this decreases the hydraulic head. Therefore, does this not mean that tide tables are very important in determining the flood potential?

Furthermore, the geometry of Chaucer brindge is such that the opening diminishes with height (at a certain point; it is an arch). Therefore, the water height should accelerate as the creek height increases (dam effect), IF the tide is rising.

Am I all wet?

Posted by janette, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 27, 2008 at 1:08 pm


I live out of state now, but I used to have fantasies of blowing the Chaucer bridge to oblivion. If anything illustrates the ineptness of the city government, it is the existence of that bridge in its current form years after the flooding.

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