Storm blog: Water mains break in Berkeley, Ashby expected to re-open by midnight

Earlier today, Codornices Creek at Ninth Street. Photo: Neil Mishalov
Earlier today, Codornices Creek at Ninth Street. Photo: Neil Mishalov

Friday, Dec. 12, 12:25 a.m. Shortly before 11:30 p.m., reader William Abernathy reported a second water main break in the Berkeleyside comments section: “Main break 1300 block MLK. EBMUD alerted. No water til morning.”

Please send us storm footage, including photos and videos, and feel free to alert us to significant storm-related hazards. The best way to reach Berkeleyside is to email tips@berkeleyside.com. Twitter and Facebook work, too. Refresh this page for updates.

Dec. 11, 10:30 p.m. Several residents have reported that there is a large water main break at Seventh and Pardee streets in West Berkeley, which happened at about 9 p.m.

Said one reader shortly before 10 p.m.: “It blew out chunks of pavement and the last I saw a few minutes ago was shooting water diagonally into the air. EBMUD is now on scene.”


Reader Lisa Buckle Styling shared video of the geyser, which can be seen below.

Ashby Avenue is still reported to be closed by flooding, but is expected to be open by midnight, according to Transit 511.

According to PG&E’s outage map, power appeared to have been restored to most of its Berkeley customers prior to 10:30 p.m., though scattered outages were still showing up on the outage map.

Don’t miss Berkeleyside’s overview of local storm impacts, which was published at about 10:20 p.m. Thursday.

Flooding closed Ashby Avenue in both directions late Thursday afternoon. Photo: Jennifer Lazo
Flooding closed Ashby Avenue in both directions early Thursday evening. Photo: Jennifer Lazo

7:19 p.m. According to Transit 511, Ashby Avenue in Berkeley, which was closed in both directions at Interstate 80 due to flooding around 6 p.m., is expected to re-open at 10 p.m.: “Motorists are advised to expect delays and to avoid the area.”


7:09 p.m. Approximately 780 PG&E customers in Berkeley are without power, many because of wires brought down in West Berkeley late this afternoon, said PG&E spokesman Joe Molica. Crews are working to restore power, and he said they are aiming to have it back on by 11 p.m.

Throughout the day, 7,500 customers in Berkeley were impacted by power outages, he added, and urged anyone who sees downed power lines to keep their distance, keep others away, and call 911.

6:20 p.m. According to Transit 511, as of just before 6 p.m. “Flooding has closed both directions of CA-13 [Ashby Avenue] near I-80 in Berkeley. Motorists are advised to expect delays and to avoid the area. There is no estimated time for re-opening the roadway.”

6 p.m. We continue to hear about power outage problems in West Berkeley, and have called PG&E to learn more.

According to PG&E’s outage map, approximately 700 people in West Berkeley are without power since just before 4 p.m.


PG&E outage map as of 6 p.m.
PG&E outage map as of 6 p.m.

It is scheduled to be back on by 7 p.m.

See a map of the outages below. Scroll down for full information from the city on resources and safety — as well as for dramatic reader photos and videos.

According to the outage map: “PG&E repair crew is on-site working to restore power,” as of 5:43 p.m.

For the most part, the rest of the city seems to be in working order.

4:54 p.m. We just received this fun video from Greg Merritt of students on the UC Berkeley campus who took advantage of the rain to play on a slide and slide. Watch it below.

4:30 p.m. We’ve gotten word that power is back on at the West Branch library, and it is set to re-open at 10 a.m. Friday. Berkeley Public Library director Jeff Scott has been posting updates on Twitter to keep residents informed.

West Berkeley residents report on Twitter that they’re still experiencing problems. Wrote Susan Brown about an hour ago, “just lost power again at San Pablo and Delaware. Out 5 am – 1 pm, on until about 3:45, out again now.”

Detailed information is not available, but PG&E says somewhere between 500 and 5,000 people are currently without power in Berkeley. Check the outage map for more. That’s up from fewer than 500 at about 2:20 p.m.

Chelsea Samuel also reported problems around the same time: “Exactly four minutes after resetting all the clocks, the power goes out again in West Berkeley.”

From the I-880 overpass looking north. Photo: Neil Mishalov
From the I-880 overpass looking north. Photo: Neil Mishalov
Reports Alexis Daniel, as of about 4 p.m., water is overflowing out of storm drains at Dwight and Ninth and Dwight and 10th.
Reports Alexis Daniel, as of about 4 p.m., water is overflowing out of storm drains at Dwight and Ninth and Dwight and 10th.

4:20 p.m. City of Berkeley spokesman Matthai Chakko said most of the heavy weather hit Berkeley on Thursday from 8-10 a.m.

“There was heavy rain the morning and that was the biggest impact,” he said at 2:40 p.m. “There are still staff on call and they will be working through the night: public works staff, forestry staff, they’re all working.”

Chakko said a number of tree branches fell down Thursday morning, but that only one report of damage had come in, when a tree limb struck a vehicle.

Chakko said he would look into whether there had been significant traffic incidents, and whether city meetings scheduled for tonight will still take place. Berkeleyside is still waiting for those details.

He said power outages had not affected significant city services, as far as he knew.

Said Pete Rosos early Thursday afternoon: "Coming down so hard they have to pump it out." Photo: Pete Rosos
Said Pete Rosos early Thursday afternoon: “Coming down so hard they have to pump it out.” Photo: Pete Rosos

3:30 p.m. The Berkeley Unified School District has just confirmed that its schools and offices will be open Friday as per their normal schedule.

He writes: “We have experienced isolated cases of flooding and power outages, but administrators and maintenance staff have inspected all sites and we are ready to resume normal operations tomorrow.”

Several readers shared brief videos of dramatic stormwater in Berkeley, on Vicente, Codornices and Strawberry creeks, as well as roads around town. You can watch them all in the following YouTube playlist.

Second Street flooded in the early afternoon near the University Avenue overpass. Photo: Davoud Kermaninejad
Second Street flooded in the early afternoon near the University Avenue overpass. Photo: Davoud Kermaninejad

2:17 p.m. Small power outages have been reported all over Berkeley, but the agency is not listing any broad outages on its outage map.

PG&E's outage map as of 2:10 p.m.
PG&E’s outage map as of 2:10 p.m.

Fewer than 500 people were said to be affected, as of about 2:15 p.m. PG&E notes that “Due to storm conditions, there may be delays in updating estimated restoration times.” Earlier this afternoon, Todd Stiers rejoiced on Twitter at the return of power: “Charge Up!” he wrote. The West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library was closed as of about 10:45 a.m. due to a power outage. The library also reports that the Zenith Jazz Band event scheduled for Thursday night at the Claremont Branch will be rescheduled, and that option to pay fines online is out of service until Friday. 1:40 p.m. Cheri reported on Twitter shortly after 1 p.m. that “We’re at Parker & Sacramento, & still have power. Knock wood.” Berkeleyside photographer Pete Rosos shared the photograph above, on Oregon Street, just east of Shattuck Avenue by the Berkeley Bowl. He said, “Someone had a foot of water standing in their garage.”

Some drivers went out for supplies offered by the city. As of earlier Thursday morning, sandbags were still available in two Berkeley locations: at the Corporation Yard at 1326 Allston Way, and at the Berkeley Marina.  Check the city website for details.

Berkeley drivers waiting in line for sandbags. Photo: Sam Walden
Berkeley drivers waiting in line for sandbags. Photo: Sam Walden
Strawberry Creek. Photo: Sam Walden
A long-exposure shot shows the power of Strawberry Creek on Thursday. Photo: Sam Walden

But it continues to rain hard in downtown Berkeley on Thursday afternoon, says N.M. Kerr.

Raining hard in downtown Berkeley. Photo: N. M. Kerr
Raining hard in downtown Berkeley. Photo: N. M. Kerr

Some pedestrians had to go out on foot, despite the rain. Said Melanie Curry, this passer-by was trudging through “water almost knee deep” on California and Woolsey streets.

Melanie Curry shared the following South Berkeley photograph at 12:30 p.m.
Melanie Curry shared this South Berkeley photograph at 12:30 p.m.
Strawberry Creek during the rains. Photo: Andy Stevko
Strawberry Creek during the rains. Photo: Andy Stevko

10:48 a.m. The City of Berkeley is urging residents to call 311 to report blocked storm drains and other issues that need to be addressed by Public Works. Those calling in problems from outside city limits should phone 510-981-2489. City spokesman Matthai Chakko told Berkeleyside crews worked throughout the night to clear drains and remove fallen branches. “We will continue to work throughout today,” he said.  Chakko said crews are mostly dealing with fallen branches rather than entire trees. He asked that residents also consider using a shovel or a rake to remove debris from drains and that they move debris to the sidewalk curb, not to the street. Sandbags are still available in two Berkeley locations: at the Corporation Yard at 1326 Allston Way, and at Berkeley Marina. Check the city website for details.  

Shortly before midday, Rachel sent in this photo of the 1700 block of Parker, which is blocked off due to downed lines from the fallen tree
Shortly before midday, Rachel sent in this photo of the 1700 block of Parker Street, which is blocked due to downed lines from a fallen tree.
Strawberry Creek flooding. Photo: Andy Stevko
Strawberry Creek  Park flooding. Photo: Andy Stevko

10:30 a.m. The Berkeley Food and Housing Project at 2362 Bancroft Way is open today until 5 p.m. to provide respite from the storm to those who need it. They will be serving hot coffee and sandwiches. 10 a.m. Strawberry Creek is raging, says Phil Ebiner: 10 a.m. PG&E is reporting many power outages throughout Berkeley. At total of 3,772 people are without power, according to its online outage map. Go to the map to get details.

The PG&E map of power outages in Berkeley.
The PG&E map of power outages in Berkeley. Click here to get info on particular outages.

9:20 a.m. A Berkeleyside reader sent in this photo of the intersection of Virginia and La Loma:

Intersection of Virginia and La Loma. Photo: Citizen reprter
Intersection of Virginia and La Loma. Photo: Citizen reprter

Berkeleyside reader Lee Fenyves sent in these photos showing flooding around Oregon and Ellsworth streets. The pictures were taken around 8 a.m.

Flooded street at Oregon and Ellsworth. Photo: Lee Fenyves
Flooded street at Oregon and Ellsworth. Photo: Lee Fenyves
Flooded street at at Oregon and Ellsworth. Photo: Lee Fenyves
Flooded street at at Oregon and Ellsworth. Photo: Lee Fenyves
Light rain in downtown Berkeley on Thursday morning. Writes Siciliana Trevino, who shared this photo, "No traffic, no kids, no protesters."
Light rain in downtown Berkeley on Thursday morning. Writes Siciliana Trevino, who shared this photo, “No traffic, no kids, no protesters.”

9:15 a.m. Power outages continue to affect residents around Berkeley.

8:30 a.m. The huge storm that we have been waiting for hit the Bay Area and Berkeley on Thursday around 5 a.m, resulting in some power outages and localized flooding. The Emergency Alert Network has issued flash flood warnings for many parts of Alameda County, although not in Berkeley. Wind gusts of more than 70 mph have been reported in Marin County.

8:15 a.m. Codornices Creek is running strong in Berkeley, says Tom Dawson on Twitter, who shared the following video.

Thursday, Dec. 11, 7:05 a.m. Residents in South Berkeley in the Elmwood district are reporting via Twitter that their power has been out for about an hour. West Berkeley is suffering some brownouts as well.

Says Svea Boyda-Vikander on Twitter: "School closed, living room has a 'truck' in it."
Says Svea Boyda-Vikander on Twitter: “School closed, living room has a ‘truck’ in it.”

Original story, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 4:25 p.m.: The Berkeley Unified School District has just announced that it will close all of its schools Thursday in preparation for a major storm expected to hit the Bay Area.

District spokesman Mark Coplan said all Berkeley Unified offices will also shutter.

School district management will be on call Thursday in case they are needed to assess damage to property, he said.

The district is concerned particularly because staff who live outside Berkeley may not be able to reach the city.

If power goes out, it could also pose a logistical challenge, said Coplan.

Wednesday night’s School Board meeting is still slated to take place.

Coplan said he could not recall a previous time when the district was forced to close due to weather.

Schools are set to reopen Friday, Dec. 12.

The National Weather Service has issued three notices about inclement Berkeley weather: a high wind warning, a flash flood watch, and a “Hazardous weather outlook.”

Oxford Elementary put out the following notice at 4:25 p.m., and the district posted the same message at 4:55 p.m.:

Given the most recent information by multiple weather services about the large storm headed to the bay area, and in the interest of maintaining an abundance of caution where student and staff safety is concerned, School District Leadership is making the difficult decision to cancel classes and after-school programs for tomorrow, December 11, 2014.

San Francisco, Oakland, Marin, and a number of other neighboring districts have also decided to close.

Among the chief concerns factoring in to our decision are:

  • Potential injuries to students and staff coming to and from school
  • Possible delays with transportation, both for district bus lines and parent drivers
  • Weather-related hazards in and around school campuses (downed power lines, structural hazards, etc.)
  • Possibility of inadequate student supervision if large numbers of staff have difficulty getting to campuses
  • Potential power outages and the complications they will bring to bear on the regular school day
  • Potential for flooding at school sites or in classrooms

Council members also spread the word about safety

Several council members also sent out the following notice to their email lists. It appears in full.

In preparation for a severe winter storm that is due to arrive in the Bay Area starting today, here is a list of several things residents and businesses throughout Berkeley can do to prepare for the upcoming storm:

  1. Check and clean as required: gutters, rain downspouts, driveways, culverts, trash and debris around fences and gardens, and clear basement drains.
  2. Check submersible pumps and sump pumps to make sure they are operating properly.
  3. Ensure flashlights, candles or portable lamps and batteries are on hand in case of a power failure.

Public Works also has sandbags available for pickup by Berkeley residents and businesses at the following locations:

Corporation Yard                   1326 Allston Way
Fire Station #1                         2442 Eighth St.
Fire Station #2                         2029 Berkeley Way
Fire Station #3                         2710 Russell St.
Fire Station #4                         1900 Marin Ave.
Fire Station #5                         2680 Shattuck Ave.
Fire Station #6                         999 Cedar St.
Fire Station #7                         2931 Shasta Road

Emergency Storm Response

Public Works will be open and operational throughout the upcoming storm event. Emergency calls may be placed to 311 from a land-line in Berkeley, or 510-981-2489.  Crews will be dispatched and respond as quickly as possible.

Preparation Work by the City

The City works year round to mitigate the impacts of the rainy season. For example, Public Works performed ongoing maintenance of approximately 7,000 storm drains throughout the city, including inspections, clean out and repair.  Staff also delivered and placed sandbags into identified problem areas and restocked sandbags at all Berkeley Fire Stations.

This year in preparation for storm season, Public Works held “All Storm Days”. On October 29, 30 and November 1, concentrating on leaf removal (hand sweeping and mechanical sweepers), storm drain cleaning, cross culvert and trash rack cleaning.  Parks-Forestry pruned trees throughout the year to prepare for significant storms.

Berkeleyside will update this post as more information becomes available. 

Related:
Woman, 31, struck by lightning in South Berkeley (03.31.14)
Lightning strikes Berkeley tree, sends wood chunks flying (03.31.14)
Hallelujah! Prepare for a wet weekend in Berkeley (02.07.14)
Berkeley residents assess damage caused by high winds (11.22.13)
Breaking: High winds wreak havoc around Berkeley (11.21.13)

See more Berkeley weather stories here, and make sure to connect with Berkeleyside on Twitter and on Facebook — or just bookmark those links — for quick access for the most timely news.