Berkeley is still cleaning up from this week’s tree-toppling wind storm, but another big storm is forecast to touch down in the city starting Monday night after a weekend of chilly temperatures.
A cold air mass is expected to bring overnight lows in the high 30s on Saturday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, and anyone without power in their home or adequate shelter may be susceptible to cold exposure. There were 470 PG&E customers in Berkeley without power as of 12:30 p.m. Friday, according to the utility.
The NWS recommends you remember the “Four Ps” of cold weather protection during this period of “unseasonably low temperatures”: protect people, plants, pets and pipes.
Another storm is forecast to arrive in Berkeley Monday evening and linger through Wednesday, delivering up to 1.25 inches of moderate rain and high winds. Winds are expected to pick up on Tuesday afternoon, with gusts of up to 45 mph across the Bay Area.
“We’ve seen a lot of rain this year,” said Roger Gass, a NWS meteorologist. (A West Berkeley rain gauge has measured 37 inches of rain during the current water year, which runs October through September.) “The soils remain rather saturated, so we’re going to see this turn quickly into runoff. The saturated soils are going to allow those trees to come down a little bit more easily than normal.”
The upcoming storm, a cold front from the Bay of Alaska, is not itself an atmospheric river making landfall, Gass said, but it is pulling some subtropical moisture from the atmospheric river currently soaking Southern California.
“Bottom line: all the threats we’ve been mentioning for the March Storms so far will still be in play next week…downed trees, power outages, flooding, rises in creeks/streams,” the National Weather Service wrote in its forecast discussion. “Continue to stay prepared and look out for neighbors if needed.”
Berkeley storm safety tips
We compiled advice from experts on how to stay safe before, during and after storms.
How do I prepare for a severe storm?
- Protect your home from flooding by clearing storm drains, cleaning gutters and downspouts before the storm arrives. 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. Learn more about the adopt-a-drain program.
- Sandbags can redivert the flow of water and minimize damage. Berkeley residents can take up to five free sandbags from the city’s Corporation Yard at 1326 Allston Way on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Prepare an emergency supply “go bag” with nonperishable food, any necessary medication, and sufficient water — one gallon of water per person each day. Learn how to assemble a go bag.
How do I prepare for potential power outages?
- Prepare portable phone battery packs and flashlights. Outdoor power generators can be a good option, especially for those with electricity-powered medical devices, but follow manufacturer instructions carefully to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If a power outage occurs, call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to report the outage and unplug most electrical appliances, leaving one lamp on to notify you when power is restored. Look up estimated restoration times on PG&E’s outage map.
- Keep your fridge and freezer doors closed. If you experience power outage-related food spoilage, file a PG&E claim.
- Read more tips for preparing for power outages.
Where do I sign up to be alerted of a storm?
- Sign up for Alameda County’s emergency alert system, AC Alert. The city’s website contains more information on how to get emergency notifications.
- Check the National Weather Service’s Bay Area website and Twitter account for up-to-the-minute weather information.
Where can I go to stay safe during a storm?
- Berkeley operates an emergency storm shelter at the old City Hall, but it’s frequently at its maximum capacity of 19 residents. Call Dorothy Day House at 510-495-0131 to see if space is available.
- When temperatures drop below 45 degrees or when there is a more than a 50% chance of precipitation, you can head to the North Berkeley Senior Center emergency warming center, which opens doors at 6:30 p.m. and closes the next morning. The warming center can accommodate up to 88 people and provides clean clothes and socks (when available), PPE, snacks and weekend meals.
- The American Red Cross offers temporary financial assistance and operates some shelters in areas where major natural disasters occur. Find an open shelter.
- Public libraries in Berkeley are open during business hours, Monday to Saturday, and offer bathrooms, water and temporary respite indoors. A full list of libraries and hours is available online.
How do I report storm damage?
- Residents and businesses can call 311 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.”
- After hours, call 510-981-6620, to report clogged storm drains, flooding, lights or traffic signals and 510-981-6660 to report downed trees.
What if I’m driving during a storm?
- If you must drive, check current highway conditions before heading out.
- If a traffic light is out, treat the intersection as a four-way stop.
- Call 911 if you encounter downed power lines.
- Severe storms often cause flooding in intersections and roadways in West Berkeley. If you encounter a flooded road while driving, the city wants you to “turn around, don’t drown,” as water can be deeper than it appears.
Featured photo: Amir Aziz
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