This story was last updated at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
Thunderstorms Tuesday morning and afternoon spewed bursts of pea- and dime-sized hail throughout the city, with lightning striking in the Berkeley Hills, downtown, South Berkeley and by Aquatic Park.
Almost an inch of rain has fallen on already waterlogged Berkeley since midnight Monday, adding to the nearly 3 inches that fell over the weekend. While power was knocked out for more than 2,700 households Saturday night, no major outages have been reported Monday or Tuesday.
Rain remains in the forecast for at least the next 10 days.
Since Christmas, the city has received more than 15 inches of rain. That much rain within a 20-day timeframe is expected roughly just once every 50 years in Berkeley, according to NOAA precipitation frequency estimates.
Even before counting this week’s rain, a monitoring station at Berkeley Lab has received 18 inches since October — 49% above normal for this time of year. In the four wettest years on record, more than 45 inches have fallen on Berkeley (in 1997-98, almost 60 inches came down).
A parade of “potent” pacific storms could dump up to 3 more inches of rain on Berkeley by Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, though we could see a brief break later this week.
“We are looking at a very wet and unsettled pattern continuing through the weekend through early next week,” said Cindy Palmer, a NWS meteorologist. Berkeley may be allowed some respite from the rain on Thursday, as only a tenth of an inch of rain is forecast to fall that day, but for the most part, continue to expect rain and gusts of wind of up to 50 mph throughout the week.
Berkeley’s emergency operations center is open, and storm patrols have been mobilized to fix storm-related problems, from clearing catch basins and storm drains to clearing debris, said Leah Greenbaum, the city of Berkeley’s emergency services coordinator.
From Saturday afternoon to Monday afternoon, Berkeley Fire had responded to 20-30 emergency calls related to the storm, with half related to downed trees and the other half to powerlines. The city had also received 14 calls reporting broken branches and seven reporting downed trees, though no property damage had been reported, Greenbaum said. Public works had received 26 storm-related calls, mostly reporting localized flooding caused by clogged storm drains around West Berkeley.
There have not been any reports of storm-related injuries in Berkeley, but ongoing and repeated power outages have challenged residents as temperatures dipped into the 40s. One woman needed to feed cold formula to her infant granddaughter last week, and another woman, who is paralyzed, had her air mattress deflate in the middle of the night. A man told Berkeleyside late Sunday night that he’d lost power four times in five days.
#AtmosphericRiver pic.twitter.com/Zm6bnHo9ik— Andrew Bennett (@AndyFremder) January 9, 2023
Surging waters on Vicente Creek.
Berkeley has been directing people looking for emergency shelter to the North Berkeley Senior Center at 1901 Hearst Ave. Protesters on Sunday called for more shelter beds in the city.
This week’s flood watches have expired. Grounds are still saturated, elevating flood risks, but the NWS has not yet extended the advisories as the showers and thunderstorms are not expected to be as intense in the coming days.
If you encounter a flooded road while driving, the city wants you to “turn around, don’t drown.”
“With a conveyance of storms, the land can become oversaturated and the ability for our stormwater systems to transport runoff can become overwhelmed,” Mayor Jesse Arreguín wrote in an email Monday. “West Berkeley is especially susceptible to localized flooding.”
BART has been running trains at slower speeds due to wet weather, and riders have been instructed to anticipate 20-minute delays.
Some regional parks along the bay shoreline reopened Jan. 6, including McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. Most parks, however — including Tilden — remain closed until further notice while storm damage is assessed. “Recent storms have caused significant flooding, mudslides, and downed trees,” according to the East Bay Regional Parks District.
Berkeley schools and programs have been operating on normal schedules.
In response to winter storms and flooding, President Biden has issued an emergency declaration, which would allow FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts in 17 California counties. Alameda County was not included in the declaration.
This is a developing story. An earlier version was first published on Monday, Jan. 9. Check back for updates.