Tag Archives: Berkeley weather

Video: Fallen tree on College; apparent cause is wind

A fallen tree on Alcatraz and College. Photo: John Holland
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Local resident John Holland captured dramatic photographs and video of a 50-foot tree that fell down Monday at College and Alcatraz avenues in Berkeley, apparently due to wind.

The tree fell shortly before 3:30 p.m., on the west side of the street just above 3170 College.

Holland went live on Periscope to document the situation. Watch the video below.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko confirmed, at about 4:35 p.m., no one had been hurt by the fallen tree, and the Berkeley Police Department was on the scene. Traffic was moving through the area, and city forestry staffers were investigating the cause of the damage, he said.

He said shortly before 5 p.m. that wind appeared to have been the culprit.

Holland said the tree appeared completely hollow inside. One car appeared to have been damaged by fallen limbs, he said. … Continue reading »

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UPDATE: Berkeley water won’t be fixed until after 10 p.m.; 650 customers have no service

EBMUD is at work in Berkeley after a water main break. Photo: Citizen reporter
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Update, 3:30 p.m. North Berkeley water repairs are taking longer than planned and won’t be working again until after 10 p.m. Friday, EBMUD has announced. Full restoration may even last into early Saturday morning, according to an advisory released just after 3 p.m.

This water service outage has been extended to multiple residential blocks in the Berkeley hills, including Euclid Avenue, Marin Avenue, Arlington Avenue and other surrounding streets. Approximately 650 customers are without water service,” according to the statement. The pipe that broke was 63 years old. 

In addition to the challenging steep terrain in the vicinity of the broken main and the need for deep excavation, this is a busy residential area. Crews have been onsite continuously for more than 24 hours to isolate this broken transmission main and reroute water to serve the affected areas. Water storage and pressure in the area have been impacted. After a complicated hillside excavation, crews are now repairing the pipeline.”Continue reading »

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Drought

EBMUD suspends drought restrictions as East Bay exceeds water conservation goals

2016-05-EBMUD Pardee Reservoir
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EBMUD  has suspended its 25% drought surcharge for all customers, as well as mandatory restrictions on water use, after reservoirs have filled up and efforts by East Bay residents to conserve water conservation have yielded impressive results.

Reservoir storage levels are at 93% of average, according to EBMUD and customers’ conservation levels have consistently been 24% below 2013 use.

Read more about the California drought and how it affects Berkeley.

“Our customers are doing a great job,” said EBMUD spokeswoman Andrea Polk. “We will continue to work with all customer groups to keep conservation going!”

EBMUD’s decision goes into effect on July 1. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley launches first ‘Resilience Strategy’ in Bay Area

Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Never one to shirk a challenge, the city of Berkeley has come up with an ambitious plan designed to take on everything from racial and social inequity to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

And, no, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke.

Friday, the city released its “Resilience Strategy,” a 56-page document that attempts to look at “some of Berkeley’s most pressing physical, social and economic challenges, including earthquakes, wildfire, the impacts of climate change and racial inequity.”

The effort is the culmination to date of work Berkeley is doing as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities network,” or 100RC for short. The city was among the first 33 places in the world — along with San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda — chosen to participate in the network back in 2013. (Alameda later lost the grant.) More than 1,000 cities have applied to take part.

Leading the charge in Berkeley is Chief Resilience Officer Timothy Burroughs, who was already working for the city with its Climate Action Plan efforts when he was selected for the gig.

A community event led by Mayor Tom Bates, along with Burroughs, is scheduled to take place Friday from 3-5 p.m. to celebrate the launch. (Scroll to the bottom of this story for details.) … Continue reading »

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Rain has abated, but Berkeley is beset by water problems!

Damage to the street after water main break. Photo Isobel White
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The rain may have abated for a while, but that doesn’t mean Berkeley isn’t experiencing some serious water issues.

A water-main break at Grant Street, between Delaware and Francisco, caused streets to be flooded Friday morning. Berkeleyside was first alerted to the news at around 11 a.m. by Isobel White on Twitter who pointed us to photos taken by her daughter, Norrie White, of the surging water. White then reported that both EBMUD and BFD were on scene: “I think they turned off main but still flowing,” she said as of about 11:40 a.m. This was followed by the comment that the water was “destroying the street.”

Tracie Morales, a spokeswoman for EBMUD, confirmed to Berkeleyside at around 1:40 p.m. that a water-main broke at 1734 Grant St.

“We have crews repairing a main break on a 12-inch cast-iron pipe,” Morales said. A total of 28 customers are out of service in the areas of Grant and Virginia streets, and EBMUD estimates repairing the break will take “a few hours,” she said.

Morales said Berkeley Fire Department was the first to respond to the incident, and was on scene at 10:50 a.m. to shut down the water. By 11:01 a.m., an EBMUD investigator had arrived to conduct an investigation and to call out a crew to make repairs. … Continue reading »

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Wet, windy weekend waters Berkeley and region

"Nature and I bonded today," at the Berkeley Rose Garden for Berkeley Project Day. Photo: brejjettealjabi
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A weekend of drenching rain brought some relief from the long-running drought, but also caused fallen trees and power lines and a series of flash flood warnings.

According to the National Weather Service, in the 72 hours up to 5 p.m. on Sunday, 1.83 inches of rain fell on west Berkeley. Heavy rains on Sunday evening carried the weekend total over 2 inches. Despite El Niño, rain totals for the year to date have been below average before the arrival of the weekend rains. The forecast is for further heavy rains later this week.

On Saturday evening, live wires in the 2300 block of Derby Street prompted Berkeley police to issue an alert for residents to shelter in place. The alert was lifted quickly after PG&E fixed the problem. There were additional reports of power outages and a transformer blew in the 1800 block of Bancroft Way.

Heavy rains Sunday evening caused a power outage in North and West Berkeley, up into Albany and Kensington, affecting around 4,600 PG&E customers.

Yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and say #elnino might not be over yet

A video posted by Nathan Christie (@ndchristie) on

We’ve collected some of the more dramatic and beautiful photos and videos Berkeleyans shared over the weekend. See our note at the foot of this article if you want to share your photos with us. … Continue reading »

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After rains, some East Bay lakes now free of toxic algae

Lake Anza. Photo: Josh S. Jackson
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Recent rains have cleared toxic algae from several East Bay lakes, including Tilden’s Lake Anza, East Bay Regional Park District officials have announced.

That means, unless the algae returns, some popular swimming spots will re-open come April.

“Thanks to heavy rains from El Niño, toxic blue-green algae has cleared from Quarry Lakes in Fremont, Lake Temescal in Oakland and Lake Anza in Berkeley,” park officials announced Thursday. “These popular swim destinations were all closed … due to toxic algae blooms, and we’re thrilled to report that the algae has cleared.”

Lake Anza in Tilden Regional Park closed in September, following the earlier closures of Quarry and Temescal lakes. Carolyn Jones, park district spokeswoman, said the lakes first tested clear for the algae about a month ago, in December, but workers continued to test the waters to make sure no toxins were present.

“They’ve been super cautious,” she said. “Let’s hope that this is it for the algae.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley workshop: Get ready for El Niño storms

Flooding closed Ashby Avenue in both directions late Thursday afternoon. Photo: Jennifer Lazo
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Experts are predicting the possibility of heavy El Niño storms this winter, which may well bring floods, downed trees, heavy winds and damage to power lines to Berkeley. This week, city and school district officials are teaming up to offer a free workshop designed to help the community get ready.

Thursday, Dec. 10, the city manager’s office, Office of Emergency Services, Office of Energy & Sustainable Development, and Department of Public Works are collaborating with the Berkeley Unified School District to host a public workshop “to help community members prepare their home and family for the potential high winds, rain and flooding from El Niño storms.”

Read more about Berkeley weather.

Attendees will be able to learn more about what steps the city is taking to prepare for winter storms, and what community members can do to get ready as well.  … Continue reading »

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Staff: Measure M has Berkeley streets in better shape

"Microsurfacing" on Durant Avenue in Berkeley has made for a smoother ride. Photo: City of Berkeley
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With the help of Measure M, the city of Berkeley is making strides to repair street conditions and add innovative “green infrastructure” projects around town that are helping improve stormwater quality, city staffers told the Berkeley City Council earlier this week.

Tuesday night, staff presented an update on Measure M to council. The measure was approved by voters in November 2012 to take a more aggressive approach to street paving, and also build capacity for watershed-related projects.

Officials said it was a report by City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan in 2011 that helped bring the sorry state of Berkeley’s streets to light. Hogan found that Berkeley’s streets had an average score of 58 on the Pavement Condition Index (PCI), in the “at risk” range but approaching “fair.”

By 2018, as a result of Measure M and other efforts by the city to address the problem, staff believes Berkeley will have boosted its score to 65, which is in the “fair” range of 60-69.

“It may not on its face seem like a significant increase, but it really is,” Sean Rose, manager of engineering, told council Tuesday night. Rose said the average score for the nine Bay Area counties is 66, and that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission would like cities to reach a score of 75, which is in the “good” range on the PCI. … Continue reading »

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How the California-wide drought is affecting Berkeley

High School students helped the Friends of Five Creeks remove invasive fennel from the mouth of Schoolhouse Creek in Berkeley in August. Photo: Friends of Five Creeks.
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The brown lawns are the least of it. The effects of the current California-wide drought go deeper than the roots of the grass and will continue several years after lawns turn green again.

Many of the impacts are very evident in Berkeley and the surrounding area. Trees are dying at a higher rate. The creeks are low and might be dry if it weren’t for leaky pipes. And if this winter brings heavy rains, damage to the stressed trees and creek banks could be significant.

One of the most obvious signs of the drought is the early fall color on many trees around town. Tony Wolcott, a master arborist, recently retired as Albany’s Urban Forester, said that the early leaf drop in the fall is a normal reaction to drought.

“It doesn’t mean the tree is dying,” Wolcott said. “It’s not a great thing, but it is a way of surviving,” he said.

But not all the trees will rebound. Wolcott said he’s noticed flowering cherries and flowering plums showing a lot of stress. So are the camphors, which line many streets in Berkeley.

“A lot of the camphors in town are old, but are dying more quickly because of the drought,” he said.  Even redwoods are looking stressed, dropping a lot of needles, he said. … Continue reading »

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Fallen tree cuts power in Tilden, sends cyclist to hospital

Golf Course Road. Photo: Art Poskanzer
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A live oak tree that fell onto a power line on Golf Course Road in Tilden Sunday prompted a power outage across the park and caused a crash that sent a cyclist to the hospital.

The tree toppled from 50 feet up a cliff onto Golf Course Road, around 200 yards south of the entrance to the golf course, at around 11 a.m., according to Carolyn Jones, spokeswoman for the East Bay Regional Park District.

The tree fell onto a power line which in turn knocked down a power pole. A cyclist on the road collided with the power line. Jones said she understood the cyclist was unable to stop in time. He was taken away by ambulance but, according to park staff, seemed to be OK, Jones said.

The incident caused power to go out at the Tilden Golf Course, the park’s corporation yard and at the facilities serving the Tilden Steam Train. … Continue reading »

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Tilden Park exceeds goals in cutting its water usage

Irrigation was shut down to just part of the Meadows Lawn in Tilden Park, just south of the old pony rides site.
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Berkeley’s Tilden Park reports that it reduced water usage in May — the most recent bill available — by 40% compared to the same period in 2013.  The regional park in the Berkeley Hills has been watering its lawns less and less over the past several years, said Park Supervisor Sergio Huerta.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do, thanks to the creativity of staff,” said Huerta. Huerta was speaking for all of the park grounds except the golf course, which is on a separate water meter. The golf course reports that it has taken one-fifth of the greenways off irrigation — and it’s showing all along the edges.

Throughout the rest of Tilden Park, Huerta said, the lawns have been divided into four categories for watering: reduced, minimal, sporadic and zero. Lawns getting no water this year include the large picnic area called Padre on South Park Drive and the group campsites, Gillespie near the south end of the park, and Wildcat View near the north end. … Continue reading »

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Crews extinguish 1-acre vegetation fire in Tilden Park

Fire map
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At least five fire companies responded to a vegetation fire that broke out before sunrise in the Berkeley-Oakland hills Sunday.

According to Avery Webb, interim fire chief of the Berkeley Fire Department, its communications center received a report of a vegetation fire west of the Tilden Park Steam Train at 5:45 a.m. Sunday.

Berkeley Fire responded, along with fire companies from Oakland, Moraga/Orinda, East Bay Regional Parks, and Cal Fire. … Continue reading »

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