George Porter sets up a generator at his home in the Berkeley Hills, where neighbors have been without power since Wednesday night. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

This story was last updated at 9 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 6.

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A powerful bomb cyclone winter storm rocked Berkeley for a second day Thursday, bringing down tree branches, swelling creeks and knocking out power for thousands of residents.

More than 1,000 residents near John Hinkel Park were without power from Wednesday until late Thursday night and more than 200 remained without power until past 2 p.m. on Friday, according to the PG&E outage map. Most are not expected to regain power until 5 a.m. Friday, PG&E says. A separate outage Thursday afternoon briefly cut power to more than 10,000 people in Claremont, the Oakland Hills and beyond.

Nicole Wilson drags inflatable sandbag weights to hold down the hose pumping out water from her garage on Cedar Street. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Codornices Creek rushes through the Berkeley Rose Garden culvert on Jan. 5, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
A fallen oak in Thousand Oaks School Park photographed on Friday. The tree had been tilting in recent years. Five city trees fell in Berkeley during the storm, according to the parks department. Credit: Fritzi Drosten

A rain gauge in the Berkeley flats showed 1.55 inches of rain fell Wednesday, and two-thirds an inch more Thursday. Waters in Codornices and Strawberry creeks rose at times over a foot.

Thunder and lightning rolled in after midnight, setting off car alarms and waking people from their slumber. One Berkeley resident described a lightning strike as “astonishingly bright and loud.” “[I] was reading in bed and there was a huge flash of light and simultaneous massive CRACK noise,” they wrote on social media. “The power clicked off and on and then the building fire alarm went off.”

A car drives through a partially flooded street during an atmospheric river rainstorm on Jan. 4, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Codornices Creek at the Rose Garden, Jan. 5, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

On Thursday around noon, North Berkeley resident and kitten foster volunteer Nicole Wilson was busy pumping water out of her garage, which had flooded overnight because of an overwhelmed sump pump. She said she had the foresight to remove most of the musical instruments in the garage before the storm hit, but she estimated the flooding ruined roughly $1,000 worth of electronic amplifiers.

Berkeley Hills resident George Porter said his power went out at around 9 p.m. Wednesday. To keep perishables in the fridge from going bad, he had connected a portable generator to one circuit in his home. (He said had initially bought the generator in anticipation of public safety power shutoffs during wildfire season.) “It’s rained so hard that there were some minor leaks here and there,” particularly near windows, Porter said. His house didn’t experience any other major damage.

Berkeley schools operated on their normal schedule Wednesday and Thursday. The power cut out in two buildings at Berkeley High and Washington Elementary on Wednesday afternoon, even before the heavy rains rolled in.

Savina Bablo battles the wind while walking down the street with her children in downtown Berkeley on Jan. 4, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

A city worker told Berkeleyside that the demand for sandbags was higher than he could remember in over a decade. Between Tuesday and Wednesday the city gave out 2,330 bags.

BART service was impacted on the Richmond-Millbrae line, and the agency asked that passengers traveling south board Berryessa trains and transfer at MacArthur toward SFO. There was a 20-minute delay advisory systemwide because of wet weather. More information is available on BART’s alert webpage.

All East Bay Regional Park District areas were closed Wednesday and Thursday due to the storm, including Tilden, Wildcat Canyon and Sibley Volcanic Preserve.

The city is urging everyone to stay indoors as much as possible and avoid driving during the storm. Residents can call 911 for downed power lines, and 311 to report clogged drains or fallen trees.

Areas especially susceptible to flooding include low-lying parts of the city in West Berkeley and anywhere near a creek or other waterway. Here’s a map of low-lying areas, and here’s a map of all the creeks in Berkeley and Alameda County.

The danger of landslides is highest in steeper parts of the city where soils are already saturated with water.

A branch felled by the wind is seen on Shasta Road. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
City of Berkeley sewer crews clear a drain at Channing and Piedmont Avenue, Jan. 4, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
A passer-by checks water levels in the rushing Strawberry Creek on the UC Berkeley campus on Jan. 4, 2023. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

This story was first published on Wednesday, Jan. 4. It is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Supriya Yelimeli is a housing and homelessness reporter for Berkeleyside and joined the staff in May 2020 after contributing reporting since 2018 as a freelance writer. Yelimeli grew up in Fremont and...

Iris Kwok covers the environment for Berkeleyside through a partnership with Report for America. A former music journalist, her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, San Francisco Examiner...

Before joining Berkeleyside as managing editor in April 2021, Zac was editor of the Southwest Journal, a 30,000-circulation biweekly community paper in Minneapolis, MN. While there, he led coverage of...