With the brunt of this week's storm hitting Thursday morning, bringing more than an inch of rain to the Palo Alto Foothills, a flooded Oregon Expressway underpass (at Alma Street) was closed from El Camino Real to Bryant Street for more than an hour, and other roadways flooded throughout the city.
Cars from Alma Street and other onramps to Oregon were diverted by Palo Alto police. As a result, traffic snarled in all directions at the next intersection with Alma Street, at Churchill Avenue, mid-morning.
Police also closed a portion of West Bayshore Road near Loma Verde and a portion of Middlefield Road between Kellogg Avenue and Embarcadero Road due to standing water.
Pooling roadways also included Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue; Middlefield at Charleston Shopping Center and Cubberley Community Center; Lincoln and Bryant streets; Churchill Avenue by Palo Alto High School; and Embarcadero between Middlefield and Alma, according to the police dispatch.
No residential power outages had been reported as of mid-day, though a few traffic lights went out temporarily.
Public Works crews worked to clear storm drains of leaves and other debris. Water along some flooded roads, including the University underpass at Alma, was drained quickly.
The City of Palo Alto is periodically updating a map of road hazards, closures, flooding and other incidents here.
Total rainfall for the Bay Area is projected to range from 1 to 4 inches in urban areas with winds at 20 to 40 mph and gusts up to 40 to 60 mph, the storm is predicted to be one of the strongest to strike the area since October 2009.
Palo Alto's creeks -- San Francisquito, Matadero and Adobe -- showed increase water volume, but as of mid-day, only Matadero's water level had exceeded even half of its height. The water in San Francisquito Creek at Chaucer Street bridge was inching up due to run off from the foothills; it stood at 8.5 feet as of 1 p.m. -- the top of the bridge is at 24 feet, with the top of the tunnel arch standing at 16 feet.
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 Palo Alto Police Department issued a commute advisory mid-day, asking that residents and workers not drive unless necessary between 2 and 8 p.m., to ease traffic conditions.
Ronnie Farrell, a science teacher at Palo Alto High School, used his grace period Wednesday to pick up sandbags, mostly to protect his garage from flooding. He lived in the same Community Center neighborhood house in 1998.
"The last time there was a lot of rain (in 1998) it really caused a lot of damage," he said. "I'm just making sure that ... the garage is protected. I'm just trying to stay dry."
Farrell said Thursday morning that Paly is "not quite flooding, but plenty of areas of the school are inaccessible."
He reported early Thursday evening that his garage was still dry.
Shae Hill also stopped by a sandbag station by Rinconada Park with her two young daughters Wednesday afternoon to stuff bags with sand. Hill lives on a ground-floor apartment downtown and said she wanted to take all precautions to hopefully avoid flooding today.
Resident Charlie Junkerman, who lives on Chaucer Street between Hamilton and University, said he filled 75 sandbags on Wednesday in preparation. He too experienced significant damage in 1998, losing a car, furnace and washer and dryer machines.
"That was pretty traumatic," he said Thursday midday, at which point there was no flooding in his neighborhood and he was preparing to leave the house for the first time that day.
Junkerman said he's also been watching the city's creek monitors throughout the day.
Palo Alto police agent Marianna Villaescusa said Thursday that its own building was impacted by flooding.
"We no longer have a briefing room right now," she said. City operations have been consolidated in the Emergency Operations Center, with multiple police officers also out in the city working with other crews on road closures.
Palo Alto schools remained open Thursday. Farrell said an email had been sent out Wednesday advising teachers to be understanding that students might be late.
San Francisco International Airport is seeing numerous flight cancellations and delays today due to the storm. Airport duty manager Nancie Parker said 212 flights have been canceled today. Ninety-nine of the cancellations are departures and 113 are arrivals.
Parker said the airport will also likely see long flight delays today. She said delays could reach more than three hours.
Power was knocked out to 93,000 residents and businesses in San Francisco this morning. PG&E was still working on restoring power to those
customers and thousands of others without power throughout the Bay Area mid-day. At least 37,000 customers lost power at some point since the storm hit the region overnight, PG&E spokesman Nick Stimmel said.
The Palo Alto Utilities Department is encouraging residents to report outages by calling 650-329-6914 or visiting cityofpaloalto.org/outageinfo.
To view Palo Alto Utilities power outage information, click here.
This story will be continue to be updated throughout the day.
To see photos and videos of the storm, visit the Weekly's Storify here.