More storms are expected this weekend in waterlogged Berkeley, but the end of the deluge may be around the corner.
Expect some light rain Friday. That’ll be followed by a stronger storm Saturday through Sunday morning, which could dump up to 2 more inches of rain on Berkeley and bring wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
These weak atmospheric rivers will likely not be as strong as the New Year’s Eve storm or Tuesday’s thunderstorms, but saturated soils from previous storms mean even small amounts of additional rainfall could cause floods and landslides. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Saturday through Monday.
The good news, the NWS said, is that forecasts finally show that conditions may begin to dry up starting next Thursday.
It’s shaping up to be an impressive wet season. About 15.5 inches of rain have fallen in the Berkeley flats since Christmas, an amount of rainfall expected within a 20-day time period just once every 50 years, according to NOAA, though climate change is making extreme rainfall events increasingly common. About 14 inches have fallen in the hills since Christmas.
We’re already approaching our rainfall total from all of last water year — around 20 inches since October, according to Berkeley Lab’s monitor — but we have a ways to go. In 2016-17, 46 inches fell at Berkeley Lab and it wasn’t even one of the three wettest years on record.
The rainfall has made a dent in replenishing the East Bay’s drinking water and helped ease the drought. As of Tuesday the Bay Area has improved from severe to moderate drought. Almost nowhere in the state is now in extreme drought.
The city recommends residents protect their homes and businesses from flooding by clearing storm drains, cleaning gutters and downspouts.
Volunteers with Berkeley’s adopt-a-drain program have access to the city’s reflective vests and garbage bags; there are currently around 30 storm drain volunteers, with new applications still being screened, albeit slowly due to staff vacancies.
Residents and businesses can call 311 (or 510-981-2489 after hours) to report storm-related issues “such as a clogged drain, culvert, inlet, or creek; a fallen tree or major limb; a malfunctioning traffic signal; or flooding that enters a travel lane.
Severe storms often cause flooding in intersections and roadways in Berkeley. If you encounter a flooded road while driving, you’re urged to “turn around, don’t drown.”
Call Dorothy Day House at 5210-705-1325 before 4 p.m. or 510-705-1516 after 4 p.m. for warming center hours
Berkeley residents can receive free sandbags at the city’s Corporation Yard at 1326 Allston Way on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Berkeley Emergency Storm Shelter at the old City Hall has been at its maximum capacity of 19 residents since December, but there has been space available — and clean clothes, snacks and weekend meals — at the North Berkeley Senior Center emergency warming center, which has been open every night since Jan. 2.