Clouds over the bay. A winter storm is expected to lift Friday. Photo: Peter Y. Sussman

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued five warnings in recent days for the area encompassing Berkeley. NWS Bay Area is warning of gales, flash floods and strong winds, and is reporting an uptick in traffic accidents across the Bay Area as a result of what it terms a “major winter storm” across Northern California Wednesday and Thursday.

“A powerful Pacific storm will hammer the West Coast into Friday with strong winds, heavy rain and heavy mountain snow. Heavy rain will bring a threat of flash flooding along recent burn scars while blizzard conditions are expected in the Sierras,” reads an alert posted to the NWS website

The flooding alert, which runs through 3 p.m. Thursday, includes the risk of “ponding” of water on roadways and an increased threat of urban stream and creek flooding.

PG&E (which it was reported this week is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy) is urging its customers to take the necessary steps to be prepared and stay safe, given the possibility of outages and restoration work. The utility agency’s eight top tips are:

  • Never touch downed wires
  • Use flashlights, not candles:
  • Have a backup phone
  • Have fresh drinking water, ice
  • Secure outdoor furniture
  • Use generators safely
  • Turn off appliances
  • Safely clean up

See the full guidance from PG&E on being prepared.

Rain fall could reach between three quarters and one inch Thursday night. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The temperature in Berkeley, according to the conditions measured at the NWS Berkeley Lab station at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, was 52 degrees, with a humidity of 88% and a wind speed of 33 MPH.

The heavy rain is forecast to peak Thursday night with a possible rain fall of between three quarters and one inch. It should abate Friday when partial sunshine and a temperature of 58 degrees is expected. The break in the storm is predicted to last through early next week.

Caltrans posted a reminder on Twitter to “turn on your headlights, slow down, & give yourself more time to travel during wet weather.” The agency was not reporting any unusual road conditions in Berkeley Wednesday afternoon, but its interactive Quick Map platform showed heavy traffic and several “collisions” and “accidents” on I-80 in the Berkeley area.

Heavy traffic and collisions were being logged by Caltrans on I-80 Wednesday afternoon. See interactive Quick Map for more details

Even before the storm settled in, Berkeley Police reported there had been a cluster of collisions in Berkeley recently. Two pedestrians sustained serious injuries when drivers hit them in crashes near the North Berkeley BART station on Jan. 3 and 4 . Two other pedestrians, one Berkeley School Board President Judy Appel, are still in critical but stable condition after a driver hit them in South Berkeley on Jan. 4.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...