News

Strong storm expected to hit Wednesday

Palo Alto could see 2 to 3 inches of rainfall, powerful winds

The Bay Area can expect heavy rain and strong winds that could uproot trees, down power lines and cause flooding and mudslides due to a strong weather system starting late Wednesday and continuing through Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm is expected to douse Palo Alto with 2 to 3 inches of rain on Thursday, meteorologist Charles Bell said.

Bell cautioned Palo Alto residents of strong winds from 20 to 30 mph, which can cause trees to topple and power to fail

The potent storm system also brings the risk of widespread flooding. Bell warns people who live near creeks to be on alert for flooding if intense rainfall occurs over a short period of time.

The City of Palo Alto has live monitors on the city's creeks (San Francisquito, Matadero and Adobe), which can be viewed at the city's website.

The U.S. Geological Survey also maintains a flow gauge upstream of where San Francisquito Creek crosses Sand Hill Road. The measurements of flow and water surface height is taken every 15 minutes for the past week.

Residents who live in areas that are susceptible to storm flooding can pick up sandbags at Mitchell Park next to the Little League Field and the Rinconada Park tennis courts on Hopkins Avenue at Newell Road. Additionally, sandbags are available at the Palo Alto Airport located adjacent to the Terminal Building.

More information about sandbag locations can be found on the Santa Clara Water District website here and the city's website.

Should power outages occur, residents can check the city's utilities website for status reports, a city power outage web map and other resources.

"During severe weather, staff will regularly monitor rainfall patterns, water levels in San Francisquito Creek and other local streams, monitor and clear roadways blocked by downed trees or debris, inspect and maintain storm drains and sewers, and plan for other possible contingencies, such as landslides in the Foothills," according to a City of Palo Alto press release.

The North Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains can expect the heaviest rainfall from the storm -- 3 to 5.5 inches in the North Bay and 2.5 to 5 inches in the mountains.

The immediate area surrounding San Francisco Bay can expect 1.5 to 3 inches of rain.

Weather service officials are predicting the strong winds will begin late Wednesday and last through Thursday night. Winds are expected to reach 20 to 35 mph from the south with gusts of up to 50 mph expected along the coast and mountain ridges.

Overnight low temperatures during the storm will be around 50 degrees.

Comments

11 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 8, 2014 at 6:07 pm

I guess it would be too much to ask our new street sweeping company to get rid of all the leaves that are already clogging our streets and driveways?

Drive down Middlefield between Embarcadero and Oregon and see what a mess it is BEFORE the storm starts.

My driveway has its usual "lake" from non-working drains or whatever about which I've been complaining for two years but this year it's loaded with leaves, too. Good thing it's not mosquito season.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2014 at 6:54 pm

What's the betting that there will be power outages in areas where utility lines are not underground, and those areas where they are underground will not be hit at all.

It must be so much cheaper in the long term to have them underground rather than having all these crews on standby 24 hours to replace downed lines and transformers. On top of that there are costs to businesses that lose power, including all those who work from home and won't be able to do so.

Third world system.


3 people like this
Posted by The Shadow knows.........
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Keep an eye on this one, folks. The prediction is for 3 to 4 inches of rain in the coastal mountain range on Thursday nightoB and Friday. That amount of precipitation is well within the 2to 4 inches in a 24 hour period that can produce peak run off flows and potential flooding in the San Francisquito Creek watershed.

I hope it doesn't materialize, but this sounds like a potentially bad situation.


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 9, 2014 at 9:20 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Besides preaching, what's the city doing to clean up the streets and all the leaves clogging the streets that will contribute to the flooding? I've never seen our streets look so bad.


6 people like this
Posted by Pangloss
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2014 at 10:02 am

"I've never seen our streets look so bad."

Relax. They just boosted everyone's salary. City serviced will be much better.


13 people like this
Posted by ll
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2014 at 10:47 am

Just pop out with your rake or broom and sweep up the leaves near the gutters yourself. Then place in the green garbage can.


1 person likes this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 9, 2014 at 10:50 am

From the link provided:
"The City of Palo Alto has changed from performing much of its street sweeping in-house to contracting with Contract Sweeping Services. The change, effective Oct. 27, is estimated to save the City approximately $649,000 annually. A monthly Refuse Fee reduction of $1.40 per customer will be passed on to rate payers beginning November 1, 2014. Please refer to staff report #4892 for more details."

"Residential routes will continue receiving street sweeping on their regularly scheduled street sweeping day. There may be some modifications to the days/times of when the light commercial areas are swept, but no changes are scheduled for residential routes at this time. Service levels will remain the same during leaf season which is typically mid-October through mid-February changing to every other week for residential and light commercial beginning mid-February."


6 people like this
Posted by Jeanie Smith
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 9, 2014 at 11:04 am

Thank you, Steve, for your post. The frequency and duration of our local street sweeping hasn't changed at all-- there are just a LOT of leaves falling this time of year. My neighbors and I do what we can to help the street sweepers by raking leaves out of gutters to where they can be easily picked up by the sweepers.

If you're concerned about leaves vis-a-vis this storm, do a little proactive raking and maybe it will help.

But this sounds like a doozey that is going to bring tons of leaves down with rain and wind anyway. Best to batten down anything likely to blow away, sandbag what you need to, and prep for potential power outages... Then worry about leaves/branches cleanup after the storm passes...

Good luck, everyone! Let's be good neighbors for each other!


2 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2014 at 11:31 am

It doesn't help the a good number of gardners (a majority in our neighborhood) use leaf blowers to blast leaves into the street , and leave them.


14 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Palo Alto can't keep it's existing streets and storm drains working adequately. But PA has the money to launch a multi mullion dollar project to mark up streets in Palo Alto with hideous green markings for bicyclists.
Of course, as we have recently discovered, Jaime Rodriguez, Chief Transportation Officer for the City, loves painting offensive green and yellow street markings all over our streets. He loves the hideous markings so much that he owns a company named "Traffic Patterns," that designs street markings. www.trafficpatterns.net He also owns a company called "Cell Signs," that is in the street sign business. He also owns a company called "American Asphalt." I guess that explains the proliferation of signs and road markings around town.


Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

I hope the storms continue and that Mother Nature pulls us out of the severe drought we're in. If not, though, you might want to consider using RainDance for your lawn & landscape watering:

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2014 at 1:16 pm

My street was in a bad state last week with leaves and water was pooling. I spent time moving leaves out the gutters into the street (in piles) to allow the water to flow and reach the drains.

When the street was swept the following day, the nice piles were all left and the sweeper did not go in as far as the gutter outside my home, I live on a bend. The sweeper did such a narrow sweep that all the wet leaves in the gutter were left and the piles were avoided.

In the old days with different sweeping machines, the sweeper made large piles and a truck would come and remove the piles. This did not happen and the piles of leaves which were too big for the sweeper to sweep were just left.

Very poor job.


3 people like this
Posted by BunchOf Whiners
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Dec 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Get out in the street and rake the leaves!
Clean the gutters yourselves.
Be a good citizen.
And by the way, the 'sweepers' do just that. They are not equipped to gather leaves - a completely different crew and equipment. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2014 at 2:21 pm

@ Bunch of Whiners

Why would residents clean up the leaves themselves, when they can pick up workers for $10 an hour?


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Bunch

What you fail to have read was that I had been out sweeping and raking in preparation of the sweepers and to allow the standing water which had been dammed by the leaves.

I am making a comparison between the methodology of street sweeping this year with the methodology of years past.

If that is whining, then so be it. We pay for our streets to be swept. I was doing the neighborhood and the city a favor by helping out. If we don't get the other crew with the other equipment (which I have not seen this season) then we are getting a poorer service.

If that is also whining, then so bit it.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Too many cars always parked on the street for sweepers to do much good.


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I agree that cars parked on the street is a huge reason for poor street cleaning and thus clogged storm drains and flooding. Do your neighborhood a favor and don't park on the street when it is raining. Even better, don't park on the street in the days before a major storm to give the street cleaning crews time to do their work.


5 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2014 at 5:32 pm

1) I pay taxes to support my city and support businesses in my city ... why should I have to rake leaves myself or be called a whiner when the job is not getting done? And why do so many people click like on anything that is a feelgood brand or remark no matter how absurd it is?

2) If people are parking in the street, it usually means ( if you give a more than a fraction of a second's thought ) that they have no other place to park. So, how are they going to not park in the street on street cleaning day. The city has allowed the parking situation to go berserk in every way and it is only going get worse over time unless they force builders to have enough driveway and garage space for the number of people who really live here - not some fantasy number count of green people who don't have cars and walk everywhere.


1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Ah, humor….It is not possible to check the utility website for a status report during a power outage.


1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm

I am really hoping we do not get flooding. Just two years ago a small story just about flooded the Chaucer bridge area all the way to Middlefield and past it a bit.

What is the City and County thinking not having done a blankety-blank thing about flooding for 15 years when they know there is a big problem that exists here?


2 people like this
Posted by 6Djockey
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm

I would be embarrassed if someone from outside Palo Alto would read all the whining about cleaning the storm drains. Some seen to just want to compete for the most clever whine. Just clean the darn drain closest to you and help us all out.


1 person likes this
Posted by Lydia Kou
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm

@Jim, a resident of Old Palo Alto

Jim, could we connect directly, I can be reached at lydiakou@gmail.com?


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 9, 2014 at 9:16 pm

During the height of last week's rain I was out in the middle of the night with a rake clearing the storm drain grating a bit down the street. More leaves accumulate immediately, and after about two minutes it's just as clogged as before. Mostly an exercise in curiosity, as the street hasn't seriously flooded since 1958. So I retreated indoors and listened to dispatch reports of localized problems like the Oregon underpass. Tomorrow night could be interesting, and probably many photo opportunities during the Thursday morning commute.


6 people like this
Posted by Whining for 2+ Years
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 9, 2014 at 9:38 pm

I've wrote to the city 2+ years ago about my driveway "lake" and the over-flow from the fire hydrant across the street and was told, "Gee. It's an old street." I also asked where my personal storm drain for which I pay close to $200 a year was and no one seemed to know!

I also wrote to the Street Sweeping folks this week suggesting they might want to clean up the leaves/puddles before the storm and again got no response.

Not too long ago our utilities dept. picked up our garbage and hauled it to the curb to dump into the waiting trucks. Now I pay more and get to to be unpaid waste hauler but they'll wait a long time before I become an unpaid street sweeper for the paid street sweepers to ignore my piles of leaves.

For this we pay extra???? At least whining is free albeit futile given our city's lack of concern and lack of response.


2 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2014 at 9:59 pm

I recently read in the leaflet that comes with our utility bill that it is illegal to rake our leaves into the street. Maybe if we all raked up our leaves and put them into the green recycle bins there would not be a big problem with clogged sewer drains. It is our responsibilty to keep our own property tidy. The city picks up our yard debris efficiently with the green bins. The street sweeper is just that--a sweeper to keep the streets clean not to pick up our debris that we rake out into the street.


4 people like this
Posted by Ross Court residents
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 9, 2014 at 10:14 pm

We live on a cul-de-sac where, for many years, a wonderful neighbor then in his 70s and 80s regularly kept leaves from clogging the street's single storm drain, next to his house. In earlier wet years, water rose from the bottom of the cul-de-sac to within two or three houses of Ross. During one near flood, he and other neighbors asked the city for help as the lone drain, even when free of leaves, could not keep up with the flow from both sides of the street. The city's response: later they placed another drain on the other side of his property!
Today I drove down Ross Road and looked at several side streets; relatively few leaves on Ross and other streets. Our short street (14 houses) has accumulated awesome quantities -- our two drains will be clogged within minutes in a heavy downpour. By the way: the villain trees are unusually prolific CITY trees; none of us would have selected them. We have lost our Good Samaritan neighbor. A number of us are now in our 70s and 80s; sweeping wet leaves and managing sandbags will not be easy options for us. City Emergency calls can be expected to flood too.
Is there any hope of getting emergency preventive street sweeping help?


Like this comment
Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Rose - you're correct. Why do people self-righteously insist on putting their leaves out to the curb, making it someone else's problem? Or letting their "gardeners" do so? It's also obnoxious because it dangerously pushes cyclists further into the street, in the way if cars. We've been composting ours for years.

Also, what gives with the hideous sandbags? The ones at the airport are rotting, torn and mostly unusable. We saw people who smartly double bagged theirs, but many sandbags were too misshapen to do that with.


1 person likes this
Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Musical - that's one of the many uses of sandbags- blocking leaves from getting into storm drains. Works pretty well, I recommend it. But bring your own shovel to the sandbag station, or take bags from one and stuff the rotting ones at the airport station into a new bag.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2014 at 9:01 am

For those interested in following street sweeping discussion, the guy in charge of the new street sweeping has given his contact info on the street sweeping thread. We should commend him for that. hiWeb Link for that.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2014 at 9:02 am

Sorry, messed up the link. Here it is. Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Ross Court resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 10, 2014 at 10:54 am

May I add to the message I wrote last night? Most neighbors (or their gardeners) regularly collect and compost leaves. Our problem is not neighborly dereliction of duty; it's that the trees on our street shed an unusual amount of (sticky) leaves and that placement and number of drains can't keep up with the volume they're supposed to handle.

By the way, my observations are mine alone, and may not reflect feelings of others on our street. However, I think they'd agree with me.


Like this comment
Posted by Ross Court resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 10, 2014 at 10:54 am

May I add to the message I wrote last night? Most neighbors (or their gardeners) regularly collect and compost leaves. Our problem is not neighborly dereliction of duty; it's that the trees on our street shed an unusual amount of (sticky) leaves and that placement and number of drains can't keep up with the volume they're supposed to handle.

By the way, my observations are mine alone, and may not reflect feelings of others on our street. However, I think they'd agree with me.


1 person likes this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2014 at 11:07 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

Why aren't people just getting sand bags and using them by storm drains? It's easy to block the leaves. The city can't help, if one is elderly or infirm? What about other neighbors?

I find the whole sand bag thing sort of incongruent to what people need. In EPA, the station is only open til 4pm. Who the heck can get there by then? And what about the elderly? Of course, in Atherton, they have 20 bags per household, ready to go!

We've had enough storms in recent years that helping the elderly and/or infirm with sand bags, especially for drains on city property, and/or to deal with leaves from city trees, shouldn't be recreating the wheel.

It seems weird that something this important that doesn't take that much time isn't handled better in this general area.


Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood wrote:

My street was in a bad state last week with leaves and water was pooling. I spent time moving leaves out the gutters into the street (in piles) to allow the water to flow and reach the drains.

When the street was swept the following day, the nice piles were all left and the sweeper did not go in as far as the gutter outside my home, I live on a bend. The sweeper did such a narrow sweep that all the wet leaves in the gutter were left and the piles were avoided.

In the old days with different sweeping machines, the sweeper made large piles and a truck would come and remove the piles. This did not happen and the piles of leaves which were too big for the sweeper to sweep were just left.

---------------

The staff report to the City Council for the street sweeping contract (Web Link) said that the contractor would not collect sweeper debris in piles on the street during the "non-leaf season" that is defined as the eight months between mid-February and mid-October. Since this is now "leaf season" they supposedly will collect sweeper debris in piles on the street. I guess the question you are asking is what does the contractor do during the leaf season (i.e, now) when it is residents who are collecting leaves in piles on the street.

“Leaf season is typically mid-October through mid-February and non-leaf season is comprised of the remaining eight months of the year.” (Page 2)

“The contractor stated that they will not collect sweeper debris in piles on the street during the approximate 8 months of the non-leaf season. They will drive the sweepers directly to the Sunnyvale Materials Recovery and Transfer Station (SMaRT). This would be an improvement for the City in terms of wind-blown litter/loose debris reaching storm drains, creeks and the bay.” (Page 8)



Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm

@neighbor:

"Ah, humor….It is not possible to check the utility website for a status report during a power outage."

You can with a smartphone or a cellular-equipped tablet.

Also, you can put your home networking gear on battery backup (UPS). My DSL modem and WiFi router are on a UPS, probably can go several hours with utility power interrupted.


2 people like this
Posted by KB
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm

At least you all have storm drains!

Here in Barron Park, we have no storm drains (on most streets), but of course, we still have the privilege of paying the storm drain fee on our utility bills.


Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Tomorrow is garbage day on my street. Is it safe to leave it out on the street overnight with the high winds?


1 person likes this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 10, 2014 at 5:59 pm

We will all be pleased to have heard that although many school districts are closed tomorrow because of the storm, PAUSD have sent email stating that we will be open.


Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2014 at 9:39 pm

@Question:

Go ahead and leave it out in the street. It is highly unlikely that the wind will knock over a full garbage bin. If it does, then you will not be alone and there will be far greater property damage than just knocked over garbage bins.

@PAUSD Parent:

And lots of school districts will be open. It's really up to the individual district to decide what is best for their faculty, staff, and students.

Remember, if the schools are open, but you don't think it is safe for your child to go to school, you have every right to keep him/her at home.

When school districts suspend operations due to weather, it's relieves the faculty and staff from endangering their lives as well. It makes no sense to have a teacher commute to the school to face the five students whose parents braved unusually nasty (and potentially dangerous) conditions.


1 person likes this
Posted by A.
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 10, 2014 at 9:59 pm

The street cleaners drive by every Tuesday. I have never seen the trucks on our street EVER. Not when I was homebound for weeks, not when I was on bed rest with my son, never. We sweep, rake, whatever it takes to clear out the leaves (we have no sidewalk proper on our street). . . And then the neighbors blow their leaves into our front yard. Lovely. We clean our gutters every 6 months and try, but we can't control our neighbors. Another guy worked for the City of Palo Alto for years, and in his retirement time paved his whole back yard with cement and pavers to make additional parking. So his trees' roots are pushing up our fence for water. I'm just scared the pine trees are going fall over and take our our house.


Like this comment
Posted by Jo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Just fyi. I think the city is always very responsible in responding to request and just today did complete street cleaning and no leaves here. However for all those people complaining about the leaves, you should all know in most cities, residents are responsible for leaf clean up not the city. It's a huge undertaking, and something to discuss in the future. But all hands on deck please, don't blame the city for everything. Get your rakes out!


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2014 at 7:58 am

The Fire Chief has put extra crews on today for down tress and power outages. Smart move.


1 person likes this
Posted by Well, well
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm

By 8:00 this morning, there were road crews on all the major thoroughfares trying to unclog storm drains so clogged with years and years of leaves they could not drain. Deep lakes had formed all,over town, some nearly three feet deep in places.

I saw a tow truck pulling a floating Honda out of a pond on the outside southbound lane of Alma near El Dorado ( where two large drains were clogged).

I had to chuckle after reading how the PAUSD denied that we could have this much rain this year. After they double-crossed us all by raising our water rates a month after sending out flyers proclaiming how they would NOT raise rates this year.


Like this comment
Posted by Peninsula Commuter
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Hey Resident, check out this story
Web Link
"No residential power outages reported today". Pretty good for a "third world power system", overhead or not.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

El Camino: Another scheme to increase congestion?
By Douglas Moran | 27 comments | 2,685 views

Salt & Straw Palo Alto to open Nov. 23
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,630 views

Trials of My Grandmother
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 1,325 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,059 views

Can we ever improve our schools?
By Diana Diamond | 6 comments | 122 views