A “level 5 atmospheric river” storm, the strongest in the Bay Area in over 30 years, brought heavy rain and fierce winds to Berkeley on Sunday, with fallen trees, power outages and road flooding throughout the city. The storm, driven by the “bomb cyclone” concentrated in Washington and Northern California, is expected to continue through Sunday evening into Monday.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for Berkeley, in effect through 7:15 p.m. Sunday. A wind advisory remains in place until 8 p.m., with winds expected to be between 15-25 mph at lower elevations, and up to 60 mph in high mountain ridges.
Winds and softened soil have downed large trees in Central Berkeley, Elmwood and other neighborhoods and a PG&E power outage was impacting over 4,000 customers in South and Southeast Berkeley as of Sunday afternoon with no estimated time for service restoration.
Flooding was also reported at Allston Way, at the intersections of both 7th and 9th streets, and residents reported a blocked storm drain with standing water at California and Virginia streets, burst pipes and other reported infrastructure issues. Berkeley police issued a Nixle alert at 6:30 p.m. warning drivers to avoid the 400 block of The Arlington due to flooding. Berkeleyside readers also shared videos and photos of a replenished and surging Codornices Creek.
Ashby Avenue between Highway 80 and 7th Street has been closed due to flooding since early Sunday morning, and it remains closed as of Sunday at 3:30 p.m. There is no freeway entrance via Ashby Avenue and the exit off the highway is also closed while Caltrans responds.
Berkeley has activated its Emergency Operations Center for the storm, but there is currently no emergency shelter open to residents, according to Berkeley police. There have also been several traffic collisions, and police are investigating the crashes to determine if they’re weather-related.
Light rain began locally earlier this week, but the National Weather Service has said that this weekend’s heavy storm could relieve the region of its fire season, replenish reservoirs and alleviate some drought conditions — though the state remains in a drought emergency due to climate change and years of limited rainfall.
This is a developing story and it will be updated as more information becomes available.