Stormageddon 2014: The Reckoning
December 10, 2014 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Drought-stricken California is bracing for the strongest storm it has experienced in five years, with school districts preemptively canceling Thursday classes. The storm is the result of an "atmospheric river," a weather phenomenon that has only recently been identified/defined, but which is now suspected of being the cause of other major historical weather events.
posted by mudpuppie (228 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Stay safe, West Coast MeFites, and please don't take it personally when I say that the GIF of the river in the "atmospheric river" page reaching out a pseudopod for California is kind of awesome, in a "Pacific Rim for someone who doesn't live near it" sort of way.

I've lived in or near Tornado Alley and not too far from the New Madrid fault for most of my life, if it helps
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:14 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I remember that last one. A 30 foot tall palm tree in front of my office was broken in half by it. Not uprooted or toppled, broken in half. Missed hitting a bus by about five seconds. I think we also had some tornadoes around the state.
posted by LionIndex at 7:15 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Heh. We're all riffing on fb about who's stocking up on what. I stopped today and got cat food (because cats don't care about storm, but they care a lot about food), coffee, and milk. We have a full pantry and a full liquor cabinet, so we should be okay, whew.
posted by rtha at 7:23 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Stormageddon 2014

That's "Alfie", please.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:24 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, recent transplants to Southern California, you're finally getting a real SoCal winter. It's not all sunshine and beach trips.
posted by hwyengr at 7:24 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Thank Freaking God is all I have to say. Let it rain!!
posted by fshgrl at 7:24 PM on December 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


Hatches battened, electronics charging.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:29 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


They're not kidding when they call it the 'pineapple express.' We're getting hit by the same system up here in Seattle, and the warm tropic air spiked us all the way to 68° today, unheard of for December.

Meteorologists have been using atmospheric river as a descriptive for several years up here, but these events seem to most often be aimed directly at Seattle and Portland and are just part of the normal winter storm pattern. I'm really glad this one is getting pushed down to California this time as well; they certainly need it.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 7:30 PM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


I live too far south to get a lot of rain and the big story is the big sur. I do hope the rain up north does help fill the reservoirs. Take care NorCal people.
posted by birdherder at 7:31 PM on December 10, 2014


I've been dismissing this, but seeing it on MetaFilter it's sinking in a little.

Are we going to lose power tonight/tomorrow? I have so much computer work that has to get done, ugh.
posted by naju at 7:34 PM on December 10, 2014


I remember that last one. A 30 foot tall palm tree in front of my office was broken in half by it. Not uprooted or toppled, broken in half.

Yep, in the 2008 storm (January, I think), a wooden power line pole not far from me snapped in half. I didn't have power for three days, but others were without it for five or more.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:34 PM on December 10, 2014


I remember in the early 90s when the force of the water under Wilshire Blvd caused some manhole covers to pop out. There's a reason that Los Angeles has a billions-dollar storm drain system.
posted by Slothrup at 7:36 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


The PDF of the full report linked on the Overview of the ARkStorm Scenario page is awesome and terrifying. Basically, they're taking the data from the winter of 1861-62, when Sacramento and the Central Valley were largely under water thanks to unceasing rain, and modeling what those storms would do to the infrastructure we have now. Completely terrifying reading!
posted by rtha at 7:36 PM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yep, in the 2008 storm (January, I think),

Well, the one I was thinking of was January 2010, but that just seemed like an especially powerful regular storm, since it sort of slid down the coast like they normally do. I took the roughest plane ride I've ever had going to Oakland one day, then went back to San Diego and we had the palm tree and tornado warnings.

Back in '04-'05, San Diego had a pineapple express for the whole winter, and I think we basically stole Seattle's weather that year. We had something like 30" of rain (triple the normal), everything was greener than I've ever seen it, and one day in spring we had millions of butterflies migrating west from the desert.

Look at what I'm talking about - I'm officially an old man now, aren't I?
posted by LionIndex at 7:46 PM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


the winter of 1861-62, when Sacramento and the Central Valley were largely under water

I won't thread-sit, but wanted to comment on this: One of the big differences between then and now is that now, Sacramento and the Delta have a levee system to theoretically protect the valley from flooding. But, the levee system is piss-poor, and in fact is rated worse than the levee system that was in place in New Orleans when Katrina hit. They're trying to retrofit in certain areas, but it's a slow process and kind of an ugly engineering challenge that does not have sufficient funding.

It's not quite the same situation as pre-Katrina New Orleans, because the levees in New Orleans were protecting urban areas, and a lot of the Sacramento River system is still protecting crops. But we have this fantasy that the levees protect the people of the Sacramento area and the Delta, and they really don't in any meaningful way.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:50 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, shit. I should probably check the news once in a while. Here are the Severe Weather Alerts for SoCal. Thanks for the heads-up, mudpuppie.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:00 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Heh. I'm in L.A. and this is the first I've heard of it. I have to drive a couple hours inland tomorrow and Friday for work, so that should be pleasant.
posted by The World Famous at 8:01 PM on December 10, 2014


Sacamento's gonna be sorry they redrew their flood zone back in the 90s rtha
posted by fshgrl at 8:03 PM on December 10, 2014


It's mostly farther north, TWF. Although it may rain a bit down here. Just not like the deluge up by the Bay. Seriously, send some of that rain down south. We're going to take your water anyway why not cut out the middleman.
posted by Justinian at 8:06 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, if it goes up north there, they're nice enough to store it for you as snow on their mountains, and then you can steal it later.
posted by LionIndex at 8:09 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


I have coffee, whiskey, carbs, Netflix, and my cat. I'm set.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:10 PM on December 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


Good point LionIndex. Northern California: Southern California's reservoir.
posted by Justinian at 8:12 PM on December 10, 2014


I'm still planning on biking to work tomorrow (east bay, Oakland to Point Pinole). I grew up in NOLA and it just seems silly to get excited about 3-4" of rain but it sure is funny watching Californians prepare for it like it's a Cat 5 hurricane.

Fortunately I am going north, which means I should be getting an epic tailwind.
posted by bradbane at 8:12 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


The PDF of the full report linked on the Overview of the ARkStorm Scenario page is awesome and terrifying.

I had to read the last link in the post through my fingers because that was scary enough. I don't want any cows to drown in this storm.
posted by jaguar at 8:15 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Having lived on the west coast for 36 years this is just a sag in the jet stream with a cold front from the north interfacing a warm wet front from the south. A fortunate one given the California drought but the "Pineapple Express" happens once a decade or so. They are predicting warm and wet for both the east coast and the west coast.

The reason weather forcasters are able to predict weather over a season with any accuracy is that there are oscillations in the jet stream [seven actually IIRC here is a map] and those oscillations don't generally move dramatically over days but take months to move. https://www2.ucar.edu/news/backgrounders/weather-maker-glossary

On preview I lived in the Bay Area and I live in New Orleans now - Katrina advanced across the Gulf of Mexico through a broad expanse of what used to be storm eating swamp. There is no way a flood is coming to Sacramento through the Golden Gate - it's too narrow and Sacramento is too far up the river. On the other hand the Sacramento environs can get flooded if there is too much rain or if there is too much melt in the spring. I remember driving west from Sacramento one year and seeing all the lovely new developments located in formerly agricultural land with an amount of water that some insurance adjustors are still cursing their bosses for forcing them to write policies.

Anyway, water, flashlights and radios yo. Canned food is good too.
posted by vapidave at 8:15 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Most of this rain is going to be dumped near the coast, where it will quickly run into the ocean or the bay. At least, in the SF Bay Area. What we need is good steady snow up in the mountains.
posted by Nelson at 8:24 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm still planning on biking to work tomorrow

Please report back on your ride home!
posted by mudpuppie at 8:25 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or swim, whatever.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:33 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Here, midway 'tween SF and LA and close to the coast, we've had most of the storms this year pass either north of us or south of us (except one on Halloween Evening, because what's a weather event if it doesn't spoil fun for a lot of little kids?). If this is Northern California's Thursday Storm and Southern California's Friday Storm, then they're forecasting it as San Luis Obispo's "From Noon Thursday to Noon Friday Storm". My hatches are thoroughly battened (but honestly, that's none of your business). I've heard longer-time-residents-than-I tell tales of the '97-'98 El Nino Season with over 2 feet of rain over several weeks and lotsa flooding. So I am happy for my 18-inch crawlspace under the Foop Coop.... also happy that the Scary 2014 Fire Season didn't burn much in this region because I have a brownish hillside behind me and any serious landscape slippage could move the duplex in back a lot closer to the triplex in front.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:38 PM on December 10, 2014


My hatches are battered.
posted by telstar at 8:43 PM on December 10, 2014


I'm now stocked up on canned tuna, Chef Boyardee and beer. And I feel more than a little bit silly.
posted by naju at 8:49 PM on December 10, 2014


We're about a mile from the coast here in Santa Cruz and we're pretty excited for this! But I also work at home most of the time and my husband got us all prepared today. We've got everything charged up and cleared out the gutters, etc. I did have to go over to Palo Alto today and there were three news crews setting up a broadcast from the summit on 17 which was completely fogged in at 6pm.

Bring it! I can't wait for a real storm. Last year in a minor storm a house near here on the cliffs had a blowhole open up in their driveway (who knew you could build on a sea cave?!) and that was good but I think we can do better for local excitement.
posted by marylynn at 9:02 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hatches are battened, although pantry is not as stocked as it should be. (Am pulling Apocalypse Chow off the shelf and planning better preparedness…)
posted by Lexica at 9:08 PM on December 10, 2014


Let us know you're safe when you get a chance!
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:11 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


All y'all West Coasters stay safe.
posted by MissySedai at 9:13 PM on December 10, 2014


"I'm now stocked up on canned tuna, Chef Boyardee and beer. And I feel more than a little bit silly."

I went through Loma Prieta when the power went out for a couple of days and Hurricane Isaac where the power went out for five days. If you really want to feel silly try wiping your ass in the dark. Ass wiping is more visual than you think, though I would say beer is more essential. Add a flashlight to your kit and as above, stay safe.
posted by vapidave at 9:20 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Let's please stop with the "Stormageddon" overkill. It in no way deserves that title, and you're belittling storms that actually do. Its correct nomenclature is "Rainageddon."

We have to reserve Stormageddon for the ones that really warrant it. I mean, what's after Stormageddon? There's Deathstorm. But I think that's the upper limit. Where will we go from here?? Think about the future, people!
posted by greermahoney at 9:23 PM on December 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


At our staff meeting, we cheered the idea of having no school (in Marin County) tomorrow. We are actually more excited than our students, I think.

It's pretty exciting to have a paid day off to catch up on the hours and hours of grading I need to do! Let's hope we keep power so that I can score all of the vocabulary tests and research projects on Mesopotamia.

Also, it was not a good idea to go to Safeway after work. By 4:00, all the bottled water was gone. Even the fancy expensive stuff.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:33 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Waiting for it to really hit in Sonoma County (which is supposed to get hammered, apparently). It's already been raining harder for longer than I've seen this year. My big concern is power outages and downed trees. I've got a deadline tomorrow and if we lose power I'll implode into a hyperdense stressball. There are so many weakened or just plain dead trees around because of the drought, if the winds are as bad as they think, it's going to be a huge mess tomorrow. I've got a big cedar (or something) that's slowly dying, and if it comes down there's a decent chance it would fall right on my bed, so Mrs. Gofargogo and I will be sleeping in the living room away from the danger.

I remember (/oldman) the '98 storms that just hammered the bay area for weeks. It was chaotic trying to anywhere due to all the localized flooding. Part of the problem for us, is that we don't often get 'real' weather so people and agencies just don't have the experience or resources to cope.
posted by gofargogo at 9:33 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh god, LionIndex, that 2005 butterfly migration in SD was insane! I forgot all about that. Definitely went from "Wow, so many butterflies!" to "Augh!! Soooo many butterflies" way faster than I would have predicted. Honestly, I still don't really like butterflies.

I just moved from CA to Seattle in July so this is my first Seattle winter. I let the dogs out this morning and noted that it felt...warm. TOO warm. Glad to hear this seems weird to other people. The wind outside is loud already and I guess it's only going to get louder...
posted by town of cats at 9:34 PM on December 10, 2014


Apocalygeddonstormilypse II, The Cold Wet and Windy Sataning.

Honestly though, stay safe.
posted by vapidave at 9:36 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


"I'm still planning on biking to work tomorrow (east bay, Oakland to Point Pinole). I grew up in NOLA and it just seems silly to get excited about 3-4" of rain but it sure is funny watching Californians prepare for it like it's a Cat 5 hurricane."

After a solid 6 years of drought, what happens here is not trivial. Just 2 days ago, a 50 foot oak tree fell over outside my house, nearly crushing an entire apartment complex. Fortunately, it fell in such a way as to cause minimal damage...but with the ground being saturated after being completely dry for years, this has a tendency to happen. Add to that 30+ mph winds and above-ground power lines, and that bike ride of yours might be quite entertaining, if not downright dangerous.

The last time high winds hit SF, it blew entire rooftops off, sucked to be living in those houses. In Marin, I'm actually VERY concerned about my friends who live just off a creek that was almost overflowing into their backyard with only a couple of inches of rain over several days...

Yes, NorCal STORMWATCH is fun to joke about most of the time, but this one looks to be a major inconvenience. I expect power outages, floods, water and wind damage, toppled trees and people will die. Mudslides in California are a thing...not sure how that goes in NOLA.

I hope I'm wrong, of course. But from the looks of this storm...I'm prepping my IT team for some alerts and possibly a shutdown tonight.

On the other hand, we sure could use some aquifer filling, big time. Sacramento is a totally different beast, but you'd have to drive by it to see what is in store for them.
posted by Chuffy at 9:38 PM on December 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


And, yes, gofargogo, the thing people don't get about rain in CA who don't live there is that most cities in CA don't have the drainage infrastructure that other places have because they don't get enough precipitation to make it worth building. I was in middle school during the '98 storms and about a third of our campus was under a foot of water. I slipped in a "puddle" on my way to class and ended up entirely drenched, head to toe. And parts of our multipurpose room ceiling just started disintegrating because the roof couldn't take the water load and the asbestos tiles that constituted the ceiling got saturated and started just dropping off onto the floor. Ridiculous, but in a wetter climate things would never have got to that point. It's easy and frankly pretty sensible to say, "Well, we don't need to spend money on flood mitigation/roof repairs/whatever" when you only get storming like this once a decade.
posted by town of cats at 9:38 PM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


I have coffee, whiskey, carbs, Netflix, and my cat. I'm set.

Except the Netflix might not work.
posted by Chuffy at 9:45 PM on December 10, 2014


Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together...mass hysteria!
posted by kirkaracha at 9:46 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


I remember that last one. A 30 foot tall palm tree in front of my office was broken in half by it. Not uprooted or toppled, broken in half.

Yep, in the 2008 storm (January, I think), a wooden power line pole not far from me snapped in half. I didn't have power for three days, but others were without it for five or more.


We had just moved into new offices. That Friday a...maybe 100 foot redwood tree fell over (unfortunately Google Street view only goes back to Feb 08). Luckily it only fell on a few cars (versus the buildings to either side or the 6 lane street).
posted by MikeKD at 9:51 PM on December 10, 2014


Yeah, last week a mild rain storm flooded all of 101 and shut it the fuck down.

I made it to work (15 mins normally) in just under an hour. My colleague, who left a bit later, spent 90 minutes on the same commute.

Flooding in this area happens anytime there's semi-heavy rain, and it's no joke. There were parking lots under water in Marin last week. This time? It will probably be much, much worse.

(as a former Seattleite, it bothers me that something as ordinary as rain causes a freeway to shut down and makes normally borderline-dangerous drivers into psychotic maniacs on wheels... #CaliforniaProblems)
posted by guster4lovers at 9:54 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I like the drivers who seem to believe that heavy rain is logically irrelevant to how you should drive on the freeway. They are angry, really angry, that people slow down some.
posted by thelonius at 9:57 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


My boss's boss's boss (giant tech company) sent out an email telling everyone to stay home tomorrow and telecommute, which is good because I'm sure my roof has spent the last two very dry winters developing all sorts of dried out spots it can leak through and I'll be on bucket duty. Also, there's a tree out front I'm giving side-eye to: if it topples it will either take out the east end of my carport or tumble down a hill. Either way, I'm not parking near it tonight.

The last time we had winds as strong as is forecast for tomorrow, my neighbor's patio set ended up in my back yard.
posted by jamaro at 9:58 PM on December 10, 2014


This story about the level of annoyance and mayhem that can happen multiple times in one New England winter (no floods, but power down and roads closed or dangerous). So as a transplant I feel well prepared. I have my snowshoes, parka, sled dogs, and ...

... I've made a terrible mistake.
posted by zippy at 10:00 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


1) At my job, most of us are from Somewhere Else, whether that's Brazil or Tennessee. We're all taking about how hard it is for us to take CA storms seriously.

2) But we've also all learned how deceptive storms here can be compared to what we're used to. It just seems like a light to medium rain, usually, but with the dry hillsides and the *duration* of the rain, there's flooding and danger when we don't feel primed to expect it. Plus, sometimes it's a gentle rain here, but oh-god-mudslide!!! just a few miles away. So I try not to be too dismissive.

3) My students are supposed to be leaving for the Sierras tomorrow afternoon. I took the opportunity to teach them about the Donner Party. :D

4) #hellastorm is either the best or worst Twitter hashtag I've ever seen.

Stay dry, guys!

(Sorry for edit. I'm not used to posting via iphone and I screwed up.)
posted by wintersweet at 10:01 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Hmm, yes that 08 storm was a bitch. Flooded the roads here in the LBC, flooded the alleys, flooded my garage. I just discarded the sandbags I filled at the fire department back then. Sunlight had ruined them.

We're not supposed to get too much down here. But then in 09 FEMA changed all the flood maps and I learned that my place is on a reclaimed marsh, and global warming, so it may get soggy. Flood insurance is expensive!

My reusable, just add flood, sandbags arrived last Friday.
posted by notyou at 10:01 PM on December 10, 2014


We have to reserve Stormageddon for the ones that really warrant it. I mean, what's after Stormageddon? There's Deathstorm. But I think that's the upper limit. Where will we go from here?? Think about the future, people!

Class 3 Killstorm?
posted by Talez at 10:08 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Mudslides in California are a thing...not sure how that goes in NOLA."

I lived in SF for more than a decade and I live now in NOLA. There is a greater elevation difference in the city of SF than there is in the entire state of Louisiana. The weather people advise about "flash floods" here but it's really just a bunch of water accumulating. Water up to your ankles, It's not water washing down an arroyo. Louisiana is as flat as a pool table.

Oddly, here the swamp annually catches fire from lightning. It's nowhere near as dramatic and has nowhere near the cost in homes as when the Santa Ana winds sweep fire down the canyons in Calfornia.

OTOH I've seen it rain more than a foot in an afternoon here in Louisiana - twice. Your poor little car floats, and fire ants.

Mudslides are predictable in that rain is coming and maybe you shouldn't have built there, hurricanes are predictable lately in that you can see them coming on the satelite for several days ahead.

I hate earthquakes. One second you are standing there minding your own business and the next second terra firma is not.
posted by vapidave at 10:15 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


I blame the police's new weaponized-weather crowd-control technology.
posted by Zed at 10:24 PM on December 10, 2014


The school I work at absolutely refuses to close under any circumstances, apparently. And we were told that even if classes closed, my section would still have to be open because god forbid people not get their services.
Almost all of my coworkers live across the causeway and are all taking a vacation day/attempting to "work from home"* The only people who actually have to come in are the middle managers (all of whom live on the non-causeway end) and oh, ME, because I'm one of the very few who live in town. I will probably have to spend all fucking day long answering angry phone calls without a break because no one else is here and I'm already dreading it. I'll probably end up praying to have a tree land on me to put me out of phone call hell/transportation misery. I'd bet money that there won't be any blackout at work but there will be at home for 48 hours, which is what happened in the 2008 stormageddon. Plus the poles in my neighborhood look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa on a good day already. I just drove around for ten minutes finding parking that wasn't under a tree or a pole. Fingers crossed!

* in all honesty, this is not a job one can do from home, so even if people can figure out how to log in and don't have a power outage, I ain't holding my breath.

And I haven't even gotten into how I rounded up people (in the Bay) to go to Dickens Fair this weekend and now I'm telling them I may not even be able to go At All due to weather and so far they just don't seem to get it. "You can't take Amtrak? You want me to drive up and get you if you don't want to drive? We'd REALLY like you here Friday night instead of driving over there Saturday when it's actually dry...." Of course, this is assuming Dickens Fair is even on come the day, mind you. What part of "No, they seriously are saying don't go ANYWHERE if you don't have to, they don't even want people biking" do they not get when I've said it five times, I do not know.

Though it is now 10:30 and stormageddon has not quite started yet. It rained while I was in the theater a bit, but there's no wind or rain right now. Let's see how long that lasts.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:27 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Things in California that cause people to slow down, but shouldn't:

1) A singular raindrop on their windshield -10mph.
2) A curve in the road -10 mph
3) Nothing in particular -5 mph

California drivers absolutely lose their shit in the rain, and drive like maniacs in the fog. Still better than driving in Boston.
posted by Chuffy at 10:30 PM on December 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm in Seattle, and I'm set if things literally go sideways.

It's too late now, but if you have Amazon Prime, there's Amazon Prime Pantry. I was able to order a huge box full of food in preparation for inclement weather/earthquakes/illness/Mothra, etc. 13 cans of soup, a case of bottled water, and some packages of Gummi Bears - delivered to my apt for $5.99 (plus the cost of the supplies themselves, naturally.)

I also have a windup radio, flashlight, and books!
posted by spinifex23 at 10:32 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Finally getting a chance to use the "weather band" feature of my emergency kit's solar/wind-up "Ambient Weather" radio, and not feel completely like my dad.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:36 PM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


The school I work at absolutely refuses to close under any circumstances

All the public schools in my city (Berkeley) are closed, and I can't quite figure out why? What's the main danger ... flash floods? Wind damage? As someone above noted, everything runs down to the Bay ...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:52 PM on December 10, 2014


I would guess the reasonable schools are closing so that there will be less crashing and deaths on the freeway trying to get to school. Because as others have pointed out, Californians drive like idiots in general, but especially when they are wet, being blown about the causeway, and can't see and have trucks tailgating them all the way in.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:03 PM on December 10, 2014


My teacher friend suspects it more about downed trees and power outages. Better to keep the kids home rather than making parents deal with an unscheduled cancelation during the day.
posted by gofargogo at 11:16 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


No rain yet in San Jose.

But this is less than a week after the homeless people were ejected from the Jungle, about two miles away from me. Hundreds of people were put on the streets. And the feral cat colony I've been assisting with was scattered by the refugees from the Jungle. I set up a cat shelter for a couple of the neighborhood cats but it'll probably be blown over, if not flooded out.

People and animals, I don't think we're ready for this.
posted by happyroach at 11:21 PM on December 10, 2014


Starting to get a little blustery but the rain has stopped.
posted by gofargogo at 11:28 PM on December 10, 2014


Spent a couple hours yesterday clearing out storm drains in my neighborhood and clearing leaves from the street to prevent the storms from backing up. Last weeks "training rain" here in SF caused a decent amount of flooding since we have a couple years of crap blocking the sewer system that hasn't been flushed out by a good rain. 5+ of my neighbors had their basement apartments flood / garages soaked.

Was in San Jose for work today and picked up some liquor and chips and other important staples and the store was empty. NO milk but plenty of Bread.

Heard the SF Safeway supermarkets were a mad house.

Charging every thing up tonight, got the flashlights ready, made sure to have enough food to eat without electricity for a couple of days if needed (though think it's unlikely)

Work is open but discouraging travel.
Kids schools are all closed.
Saw tons of sand bags are placed near my neighbors garages and blocking out basement apartment stairways.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:29 PM on December 10, 2014


I work in Oakland but I have my machine from the Kinetic Sculpture Race and a Korean war era generator so I think I am all set.
Wind is starting to pick up and it is weirdly warm out.
posted by boilermonster at 11:35 PM on December 10, 2014


For the people questioning the "need" to stay home and of closing schools:

We don't do stuff like that for no reason. If you knew a tornado was going to happen you'd probably give that advice, and although it may seem like "much ado about a little bit of rain," California hasn't had rain like this in years.

Again, there will be downed trees and power lines, flooded roads (storm drains are full of fall leaves and haven't been washed clean in years), slick road conditions, flash floods, regular floods and mudslides. Sure, let's go ahead and send the kids to school in that, nothing bad can happen.

We don't do "snow days," for the most part. Give it a rest...school closures are for a legitimate reason.
posted by Chuffy at 11:39 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


wintersweet, the NWS has issued a blizzard warning for the Sierra Mountains starting 2 hours ago until 1 pm (Pacific) Friday.

I know you were joking about your students and the Donner Party, but presuming your students can even travel tomorrow afternoon, I hope everyone will be OK.

It seems a lot of people are boggling at the overreaction and I hope overreaction it is.

But my sense is that California has been so dry for 3 years running that people have forgotten how much mayhem a few million gallons of precipitation can cause when dumped in a short (48 hours) period of time.

Stay safe, stay dry!
posted by mistersquid at 12:00 AM on December 11, 2014


The creepy noises made by the wind whistling through cracks in the windows has started...

Being from the midwest I find this all hilarious. And it is hilarious until you recognize your city doesn't have much of a drainage system.
posted by MillMan at 12:25 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


They've closed the schools today. But SF is utterly calm, and dry. As stormageddons go, this is a bit of a dud.
posted by alexei at 2:02 AM on December 11, 2014


and the warm tropic air spiked us all the way to 68° today, unheard of for December.

Yeah, it's almost as if, I dunno, the climate is changing or something? weird right?
posted by mattoxic at 3:13 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


(as a former Seattleite, it bothers me that something as ordinary as rain causes a freeway to shut down and makes normally borderline-dangerous drivers into psychotic maniacs on wheels... #CaliforniaProblems)

Right, because every Seattleite knows that the only reason to lose your shit is when there are snow flurries (real or forecast).
posted by Slothrup at 4:12 AM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


> Having lived on the west coast for 36 years this is just a sag in the jet stream with a cold front
> from the north interfacing a warm wet front from the south. A fortunate one given the California
> drought but the "Pineapple Express" happens once a decade or so. They are predicting warm and
> wet for both the east coast and the west coast.

Is it recorded anywhere what the aftermath of these episodes was like in the days when adobe was a common building material?
posted by jfuller at 4:56 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


(as a former Seattleite, it bothers me that something as ordinary as rain causes a freeway to shut down and makes normally borderline-dangerous drivers into psychotic maniacs on wheels... #CaliforniaProblems)

In areas that see little rain, like Southern California, various little fluids, pretty much all slippery, drip out of car, but it's no big deal. Most of the pavement is dry. This goes on for weeks. Because of this, you tend not to see Mud+Snow tires on cars. Indeed, somewhat worn tread works just fine -- slicks being the ideal tire on *dry* pavement.

Then, when it does rain, all that slippery stuff, which is also less dense than water, floats to the top and turns every bit of the road into something almost as slick as a skating rink. Until enough rain hits to wash all that away, the roads aren't wet, they're grease slicks. And, of course, all those dry weather tires, which are clearly the right answer in a desert climate like SoCal, aren't exactly at their best in the wet and are utterly useless in roads covered in a thin smear of oil floating on water.

Last week, in fact, I was in LA. I was taking the saddest bus in the world back to LAX, and just in time, because it started raining when I left Anaheim and it didn't stop until well after I landed at ORD.

As a Chicago driver, one familiar with slick roads, I would see a curve ahead and think "There'll be a couple of cars on that wall there...." Sure enough, there would be. I saw, IIRC, 11 cars that had slid off the road.

This time, it won't be as bad -- the roads all got a good wash down last Tuesday -- but worse, because there certainly wasn't 50kt+ wind gusts, and on a slick road in a high wind, you are as much a sailboat as a car, and if the wind says "Go Thataway", you Go Thataway. Ask all the Midwestern truckers you find in interstate ditches about that.

So. There's more to it than "They just don't get a lot of practice." Though, lets be serious here, the fact that LA Drivers don't get a lot of practice in the wet is a factor in why they have problems driving in the wet. Just as Seattle Drivers do fine in the wet, and utterly fail in snow.

I think LA deciding "Let's just stay home and let this happen" is a very wise move. It's a day long storm. You're not dealing with feet of snow afterwards, the road will be clear, emergency crews will be able to move to fix problem. It's a day.

It's a goddamn day. Let the people who absolutely have to go to work have the roads for the day, stay home. Fuck it, waste time on the computer, play with the kids, walk to your local bar ..right, LA, okay, never mind that one..., clean the kitchen, play cards, whatever. Stop with this EVERYONE HAS TO BE PRODUCTIVE AT ALL TIMES and just watch the rain.

We'd all be better off if we got of this fascination that we have to be able to go everywhere 24x7x365. Some days, it's just smarter to stay home. This, for LA, is one of those days and I think they're being wise about this.
posted by eriko at 5:13 AM on December 11, 2014 [36 favorites]


Calfornia summarized:
Years of drought...crisis
Relief of a small fraction of the water shortfall....crisis
...ingrates
posted by Octaviuz at 5:37 AM on December 11, 2014


They've closed the schools today. But SF is utterly calm, and dry. As stormageddons go, this is a bit of a dud.
posted by alexei at 2:02 AM on December 11 [+] [!] No other comments.


To be fair, the storm wasn't forecast to get to SF until commute time. Dramatic wind gusts are now gusting and making the house whistle, and the rain is definitely rainy. Looking at the CHP traffic log, road flooding is a thing that's starting to happen in SF and will move south, I imagine.
posted by rtha at 5:58 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just walked to my local Peet's and back, and damn is it windy here in Oakland. There's already a ton of small branches littering the sidewalks. Trees that have been severely damaged by drought are dry and brittle. If you own a car, try to park somewhere away from falling debris. I'm really grateful to be staying home today and have cooked up some extra mush in case we lose power.
posted by missmary6 at 6:06 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's no way our school is closing.

mistersquid, I know--I actually am concerned about the students. Before I knew it had the chance of being SO bad, I told them to pack snacks and cards...but I'm not really worried, because the person in charge of the trip is a responsible guy and our admin is usually on top of things like this (despite no chance of the school closing in advance). They'll cancel if need be.

As for home, we just went out to take our windchimes in, and the patio is dry! The early bands of the storm are just slipping past us. That's fine!
posted by wintersweet at 6:17 AM on December 11, 2014


The wind is gusting a little up here in the wilds of NorCal, but so far, so good. Cat is snuggly. Coffee is hot. Netflix is about to be binge-y.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:25 AM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


IT'S HAPPENING.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:30 AM on December 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


The giant oaks are being thrashed about by the wind, and there's rainfall.

It's like King Lear out here.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:34 AM on December 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


"major historical weather events."

So in other words not global warming and not climate change. For once man cannot be blamed for Earth's erratic behaviour.
posted by Gungho at 6:36 AM on December 11, 2014


I have cat food, cat litter, cat treats, and cat toys, so I'm set. I get to clean house and organize my closets and put up more Christmas stuff.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:44 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sunset reporting in.

It is very windy.

like WOOOOOOOSH WOOOSH WOOSH windy. And it makes the rain sound like little ball bearings. Sort of clickityclickityclickity.

But it ebbs and flows.

Power is still on. Provisions and food stores are still at 100%.

I actually think if it rains a lot the drain in the garage is going to overflow, but I don't know how storm drains actually work. Also all the trees on sunset might fall down as they tend to do during storms.

On a related note, what's the story with the planting of ficus trees in SF (stopped in 1990). Was it a beautification project? I know they're chopping them all down because they fall on people's cars when it gets windy.
posted by Lord_Pall at 6:44 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I woke up at 5:50 and my power was ALREADY out. Grumbling, I went to get the flashlight, turn off the laptop, etc. At 6:05, I heard my heater go on...HEY, WAIT A MINUTE....So obviously right now I've got power on and am doing this, downloaded Serial, started charging gadgets just in case, checked to see if school is canceled (hah, no) etc. WHILE I STILL CAN.

So far this has been a really quiet storm, though. Usually my bedroom is very noisy (rain pipe is right nearby), but water didn't even wake me up and I haven't heard the wind blowing until I went out into the living room. PG&E only has three outages on their website for here so far.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:50 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


In the North Bay, and it's windy and very rainy here. I escaped most of the heavy rain yesterday evening, but it definitely picked up overnight and is still going strong.

Work was canceled mainly because many of us were going to have to drive on roads that were likely to be flooded, and our supervisor is very considerate (she gave us a wink nudge command to "'work' from home"). Looking at the traffic maps they're currently showing on the local news, it looks like the flooding predictions were accurate.

The work cancellation means that the planned potluck was canceled, so I am well-stocked in lentil salad and looking forward to eating it.
posted by jaguar at 6:50 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Down here in San Leandro, just southeast of Oakland, rain and wind aren't heavy at all. I commute from the Central Valley, and traffic this morning was light. Like day-after-Thanksgiving light, even the 580/680 junction to Silicon Valley, which is usually the most backed-up part. Looks like a lot of people are staying home today.
posted by ogooglebar at 7:00 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


What are people monitoring to keep track of this? I am in Rhode Island, but concerned about friends & family in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

In a thread about storms here from Nov. 8, I mentioned the twitter feeds of local NWS offices. Can anyone suggests which office(s) there I should watch? (e.g., NWS Los Angeles on Twitter)

Thank you, and stay safe out there.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:06 AM on December 11, 2014


I haven't found a good source online. I'm just looking out the window, but that's of limited use to people not here unless you just want a control group.
posted by Lord_Pall at 7:10 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


7 a.m. in San Jose. The wind is definitely here, but the rain isn't yet. I live near SJC, and it sounds like planes are still taking off. From what the Weather Channel tells me, the heaviest of the rain and the highest of the wind will show up late this morning, at the exact time I need to leave my house and head to the hall where the Women Lawyers section of the county bar will be holding their annual holiday luncheon. I'm on the executive committee, so I volunteered to check people in and log any raffle prizes people are donating. I haven't heard anything about the event being canceled or rescheduled, so I guess that NorCal Stormageddon is no match for a bunch of hungry lawyers with raffle tickets.
posted by bakerina at 7:12 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am pleased that I was able to tell my office yesterday that I'd be working from home today, especially since the worst bands of this so far are hitting right when I would otherwise be leaving for work. There's a traffic alert sign we can see from our kitchen window, and although it's kind of hard to read now because of the rain and gloom, it looks like travel time to SFO has gone from the usual 11 minutes to 16 (or is that an 8?) minutes. I am also enjoying the local news footage of Reporters in Rain Gear, Reporting From the Side of a Road, in the Rain. Oh, there's one now, at Lucky Drive in Marin!
posted by rtha at 7:16 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


rtha, I think we're watching the same channel.

Why won't they let reporters inside? "Look, I'm wet! There is wetness coming down from the sky!" does not seem any more illuminating than the traffic cameras showing wet cars and wet roads.
posted by jaguar at 7:20 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Stay dry, stay safe, West Coast MeFites.
posted by seyirci at 7:24 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


So as soon as I hit "post comment" on "No rain in San Jose yet!," the rain showed up. I just heard the telltale Emergency Broadcast System alarm on the radio; I thought "you picked a hell of a morning for a test, KQED," an actual emergency broadcast started. Flash flood warning in effect. Oh, boy.
posted by bakerina at 7:25 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


And it is hilarious until you recognize your city doesn't have much of a drainage system.

This was basically my family with Snowmageddon in DC. It was all "Hah, look at them scurry!"
until the roof of our apartment complex fell in.
posted by pan at 7:29 AM on December 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's like King Lear out here.
check your cheeks for cracks
posted by thelonius at 7:30 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sort of crappy and damp and overcast in LA, but thats about it so far.

Also, having lived in both cities, LA drivers are no worse in the rain than Portland drivers. Explain that one to me.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:30 AM on December 11, 2014


I just realized, based on comments here and the reports of fallen trees on the news, that I should maybe move my car to someplace other than my driveway, which is flanked by two very large, very dead trees, plus two wooden electric poles.
posted by jaguar at 7:32 AM on December 11, 2014


Yikes! Stay safe, jaguar.
posted by bakerina at 7:33 AM on December 11, 2014


KTVU, jaguar!

(Also, while the flooding at Lucky Drive is dramatic, it is not at all unusual. I'm wondering what's happening here in the Mission along 17th street, which is built on top of Mission Creek and flooded quite a bit in the last storm, and will certainly do so in this one. How much can sand bags really help?)
posted by rtha at 7:34 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Car moved into my landlords' parking area, email sent explaining why my car is in their parking area, one pair of really wet shoes due to the walk back on the heavily puddled driveway.
posted by jaguar at 7:35 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


From yesterday:

"The area between 14th to 18th Streets between Folsom and Harrison Streets, once a marsh, was filled in 1860-1870. But it has settled, Greg Braswell, sewer information system manager for the Department of Public Works, told Mission Local earlier, and “If you’re standing in the outdoor patio in the back [of Stable Café], in 1870-80 you would have been 24 inches taller,” he said."

(Oooh, and the rain has suddenly gotten much, much harder)
posted by rtha at 7:39 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I spent four times as long parking my car last night because I was trying to decide which space was the least likely to get hit by falling branches (or trees, if it came to that), but the best spot for avoiding all that is near a storm drain...

I'm staying home today because evening traffic was horrible over the Sunol grade last week during the storms and I was getting panicked at the thought of doing the same drive in conditions that are triggering NWS warnings and school closures. So far it looks like my drive in would've been uneventful, but I'm expecting vindication this afternoon as the rain intensifies.
posted by phatkitten at 7:39 AM on December 11, 2014


Well, at least the smoldering pit next to the 110 downtown will finally stop smoldering, and turn into a gooey pit of ash instead.
posted by malocchio at 7:40 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Made it in safely to work here in Oakland. Rain and wind are super gusty, tree branches everywhere. No point in carrying an umbrella, just gets turned inside out.
posted by Pocahontas at 7:41 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, that was a terrible sleep.

I think this is the first time I've been really envious of those that arrive home and sleep in earlier. It was pretty calm at 12, but started getting noisy at 2 or 3 am, helped by the 30 ft pine outside my window.
posted by halifix at 7:45 AM on December 11, 2014


Ma 'n' Pa Ardship spent about an hour last night rounding up a boatload of flashlights, lanterns, candles, and hand-crank radios, and have them strategically positioned throughout the house.
Couldn't really sleep after 3AM due to all the noise from the wind. Ma Ardship joined me for an early breakfast as did the cats.
I usually casual carpool to work but opted for the bus today since the traffic report indicated not a lot of drivers out there (lucky bastards). Bus stop much closer than the casual carpool pickup but it was a wet, windy slog over there. Bus was only about half full.
Traffic was very light until the bus actually got on the Emperor Norton Bridge. Windows too fogged up for me to really tell what the slowdown was about (high winds?).
It's rainy in SF now but not super windy. Most of the cafes (Noah's, Specialty's, etc) are open. Our office bldg has a backup generator so we should manage.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 7:45 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


In San Francisco. I'm watching #hellastorm and there are multiple power outages and closed BART stations. Someone in #BayAreaStorm said around 15k people woke up without power.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:51 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well the tree didn't fall on my house, so that's good. The Dog was really excited that we were sleeping on the floor in the living room, but settled down as it got noisy. It was a pretty noisy night, and the drains on my street have overflowed. I'm going to head out for coffee and make sure that civilization hasn't collapsed.
posted by gofargogo at 7:53 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Deep-fried hatches are overrated. They're the fish tacos of storm food.
posted by XMLicious at 7:54 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


In Marin, we have a flash flood warning as well as heavy rain and winds. Love #hellastorm as a hashtag.

The reason all of Marin canceled school was that we have a HUGE amount of students who walk or bike to school (about 2/3 of my school of 400 middle schoolers) and those routes were very likely to be flooded/hit hard with rain and wind. They were worried that the storm would hit directly at the time when students were heading to school. Then there's the power outage danger.

We also have a lot of staff coming from over the Richmond/San Rafael bridge, as well as from the city, and it seemed like those bridges would be dangerous at best at morning commute time.
posted by guster4lovers at 7:55 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


If anyone wants to play along online, here's a good radar map and here's a weather station in the middle of SF with a good minute-by-minute rain accumulator. I <3 Wunderground.

What I've never been able to find is a frequently-updated count of snowpack. I think because it's hard to actually measure? I'd love to see hour by hour how much snow we're building up in the Sierra.
posted by Nelson at 8:00 AM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'd love to see hour by hour how much snow we're building up in the Sierra.

Mammoth Lakes/Mountain Webcams

Lake Tahoe webcams

More Sierra webcams
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:12 AM on December 11, 2014


I mean, what's after Stormageddon? There's Deathstorm. But I think that's the upper limit. Where will we go from here?? Think about the future, people!

Metalstorm, of course.

And I can completely sympathize with the lack of infrastructure for a relatively rare weather event like this, having lived in Memphis, which seemed to have a serious, city-shutting-down ice storm every decade (I happened to live there between two of the more recent ones), but no particular desire to keep salt trucks around just in case.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:13 AM on December 11, 2014


Okay, now the rain's really coming down in San Leandro.
posted by ogooglebar at 8:18 AM on December 11, 2014


UPDATE: The wind has dropped off, but the rain has picked up.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:19 AM on December 11, 2014


Metafilter: a community weblog where we literally talk about the weather.
posted by Nelson at 8:26 AM on December 11, 2014 [12 favorites]


wenestvedt, LA won't get the worst of the rain until tomorrow, and I haven't seen anything about closing schools this far south. The greatest risk will be mudslides, I guess? (I admit, as a recent transplant, the idea that kids here had early dismissals for the paltry rain last week is hilarious to me. But mudslide risk is greater further from us, and that's no joke.) Is there a particular county you're worried about-- maybe someone can suggest a local news source?
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:28 AM on December 11, 2014


Yeah, Arkansas has a nasty habit of ice storms every few years, and a complete disregard for that fact. So everything just gets shut down whenever the ice hits.

If you look at the Twitter hashtags above, though, there are some genuinely scary photos. I started an independent Twitter info-sharing account for the Fremont area few years ago, and still contribute from afar, so I've got tons of news accounts in that feed. It really looks bad in some places--not to mention that San Bruno BART station is flooded, and Montgomery's lost power. Remember, microclimates don't just mean that if you feel a little chilly you can drive 20 minutes and bask in the sun. They also mean that a light rain here can mean stranded cars a few miles away.

Anyway, thanks to all the CoCo commuters who stayed home today (despite no East CoCo schools being canceled that I know of). My commute was actually faster than usual. Score!
posted by wintersweet at 8:28 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not to do minute-by-minute reporting, but where I am, we've got a slight breeze and a gentle rain at the moment. Meanwhile, in SF, KPIX 5 tweets that "SFPD will close the Embarcadero from AT&T to Pier 39 due to water cresting the seawall. Closure is being set up currently." So, you know...I think some of the mockery that I'm seeing on Twitter and Facebook really just indicates a lack of understanding about how the Bay Area actually works.
posted by wintersweet at 8:31 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cliff Mass has a post about the storm's approach for Washington... "If this thing approached San Francisco, they would probably abandon the city. But we are made of sterner stuff."
posted by AllieTessKipp at 8:35 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


And Mt Hamilton summit is seeing gusts of ~83 mph!

gingerbeer found a lot of good/scary photos and other stuff at the NWS Bay Area twitter: https://twitter.com/NWSBayArea
posted by rtha at 8:36 AM on December 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


Not building any snowpack in the Sierras right now. At least at my house in Truckee, it is only windy. Sounds like most of the snow will start this evening.
posted by carolr at 8:39 AM on December 11, 2014


Former bay arean turned Seattloid here. Looks like your average Seattle day in the PacNW. The Yob is blasting and the babies are playing. Glad I no longer live in San Bruno, because the wind rips through there on normal, calm days, so I'm sure it's really ripping now. For some reason they put the high voltage lines at the top of the ridge, I guess for maximum power outages.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:42 AM on December 11, 2014


I woke up several times during the night and was disappointed not to hear the rain, but then finally around 6:30 it started (I'm at the foot of the Oakland hills). Tried to catch a bus, but because the schools are closed, the buses are all running early, and the next bus would have required a half-mile walk in the pouring rain. So I drove into the office, which was fine: light traffic, quick trip. And for once I parked in the garage.

The office is half-empty, though: a lot of people here commute from the North Bay or well into Contra Costa County, and they pretty much all stayed home.

It's fun to look at the rain hammering down on the roofs of the buildings next door, and I'm far less likely to lose power here than at home.

It's weird to get a storm from this angle: I don't usually get raindrops hammering on the south-facing windows of my house. And the north side of the house is nearly dry, by comparison.
posted by suelac at 8:44 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well now our house is leaking. Not my house (rental), but still.

Entryway has a tunnel entrance that was covered up, so it's raining in there. Put a giant bucket out.

Garage has pipes that go to the ceiling that are leaking too, so water is dripping all over the joists and garage floor. And the wooden things that hold the house to the slab.

There is a rag tied to that pipe, ostensibly to help absorb the water, so now we also have a sopping wet manky rag dripping onto things.

Will report back when situation develops further.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:48 AM on December 11, 2014


Super windy starting around 6 am and daylight has revealed a number of green fronds have snapped off my queen palms.
posted by jamaro at 9:05 AM on December 11, 2014


Sitting here in the mid-Central Valley, no rain at all yet this morning (as of 9:00am local) but wow is the weather weird and menacing. Constant wind swirling, gray and angry, low stratus clouds making the sky look like a strangely carpeted ceiling...something's definitely coming, but nothing yet.

The freeway signs started on Sunday with the message "Severe Storm Coming Wed-Fri. Plan Driving Accordingly," which I've not seen before (in the past ~15 years).
posted by LooseFilter at 9:06 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, my dogs know something is up, and I trust their weather acumen more than most sources. They were just completely out of sorts on our walk this morning.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:07 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Power's out in my building in the Tenderloin in SF. Really glad we finally got a new roof last year, or my apartment would be underwater.

Somehow I remained ignorant of the approach of this Deathstorm until late last night, right before leaving work. Good work, me.
posted by hototogisu at 9:19 AM on December 11, 2014


> There's a traffic alert sign we can see from our kitchen window, and although it's kind of hard to read now because of the rain and gloom, it looks like travel time to SFO has gone from the usual 11 minutes to 16 (or is that an 8?) minutes.

The sign now reads 62 minutes! Sixty-two! That is way more minutes than usual. Glad I don't have to go anywhere, especially there.
posted by rtha at 9:21 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh my! I just turned on the TeeVee, and it was tuned to the local Fox station (because I only ever turn the TeeVee on for football). Their weather guy is a very flamboyant, very giddy gay man, and I think this is the best day of his life. He did a bunch of deep knee bends when demonstrating the front line of the storm moving from West to East! Why did I never know about him before?

They're streaming live, so you might be able to catch him when he comes back for his next update. If you don't mind giving a Fox station the click, that is.

It is very windy here, and very rainy. It is also trash day, and my across-the-street neighbors' trash cans are in their next door neighbors' yard.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:28 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was looking at the radar loop and thinking it didn't look so bad. I see those kinds of patterns locally a few times a year. Until I realized that the area covered by the weather I'm seeing is roughly the size of my entire state, not just the city and metro area like I see here.

Which is to say, stay safe y'all.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:31 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh right, and the secondary effects the weather here is having are feline. Cat #1, curled up on my stomach and NOT planning to move. Cat #2 is running laps around the house, taking the occasional break to wrestle and rabbit-kick the bedspread, the pillow, the pile of laundry, etc. Then back to running laps.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:31 AM on December 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


lol just called my vet to schedule the cats' yearly wellness exam and they cheerfully offered me an appointment today! Guys, it's drenching rain, gusting winds, and you want me to haul two angry cats around?! Say what you want about the danger of mudslides and flooding, but preserving my sanity (and skin) against raging, storm cats is #1.
posted by missmary6 at 9:47 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


For those of you who want to watch a blizzard from afar, here's the Donner Summit livecam. It's started raining there, but it's going to be a couple of hours before the real weather happens.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:01 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]




Just lost power, in Precita Park.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:03 AM on December 11, 2014


Well, now it's bucketing down.
posted by jamaro at 10:08 AM on December 11, 2014


The Sacramento weather guy says the wind is over.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:11 AM on December 11, 2014


Lots of wind but rain is on and off here in Santa Cruz. We aren't expected to get the heart of it for at least another hour. For some reason we were well-stocked with all manner of bungee cords so this morning the husband deployed them and basically everything in our vicinity is strapped down. We're keeping an eye on a big tree in our front yard that's got some dead branches that are swaying and bending pretty intensely. We tried to suggest to our neighbour that perhaps he not park his trunk underneath it but we also know the truck is on it's last legs to perhaps that's just strategy?

We moved in here just about a year ago and around the corner is the local fire station which, according to our neighbour, is on the same part of the electrical grid as us and that means that if power goes out we get priority in restoring it. They claim they've never had power out here for more than an hour. However, we've also come to learn she's a bit of a bullshitter so I guess we'll see! I'm trying to get as much work down as I can before we lose power entirely.

Earlier, as he insisted, we let one of the cats outside. He was immediately blown against the house and then ran back in. He's taken up position on a bed and likely will remain there for the duration.

Surf cams revealing high surf - if we can we'll go out and check it out later (and no, we won't go close enough to get swept out to sea!).
posted by marylynn at 10:16 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pic of 101 flooding at Sonoma-Marin county line.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:20 AM on December 11, 2014


Not much happening in Cupertino. I was all "what's the big deal" then I looked at the NWSBayArea Twitter feed and yeah, it's a big deal.
posted by zsazsa at 10:28 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is it recorded anywhere what the aftermath of these episodes was like in the days when adobe was a common building material?

Well, the building in that photo is pretty dilapidated and poorly-maintained, but generally folks building with adobe sort of knew what they were doing if they wanted a building to have any sort of permanency (barring catastrophic earthquakes). Usually they'll have either pretty deep eaves or a plaster whitewash to protect the adobe, maybe both. The whitewash would need to be maintained and refreshed every so often, or yes, the walls would melt away, which happened to a lot of the Spanish missions between Mexico's secularization (around 1834) and when they were restored. The Presidio at San Diego has been just a bunch of low berms for quite a long time now. There have been quite a few adobe buildings built fairly recently (just for aesthetic concerns) that are doing fine as far as not having the walls disappear.
posted by LionIndex at 10:29 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I recieved California Water Crisis - The Board Game in the mail yesterday, just in time for our weekly games night and today's mega-downpour. It was super fun!

And here's a photo from San Bruno, not far from where I work. Good day to work from home...
posted by kaibutsu at 10:30 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was up late last night and thinking to myself, huh, the rain doesn't sound too bad.

Then I get up to leave for work and my street is flooded.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:31 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Kayaking down Healdsburg streets.
posted by jaguar at 10:49 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I mean, what's after Stormageddon? There's Deathstorm. But I think that's the upper limit. Where will we go from here?? Think about the future, people!

Stormageddon II: Electric Bugaboo
Stormnado
Stormnado II; It's Like a Tornado Made of Storms!
Stormnado III; The Stormocalypse
Stormocalypse; the Beginning
Maelstrom
Maelstrom II; The Quickening
Hellstorm
Hellstorm II; The Hellstorm
Hellstorm III; Dante's Stormferno
Stormferno
Stormferno II; We're Not Even Trying Anymore
Stormtrocity
Stromtrocity II; The Stormining
Stormocaust
Stormocaust II, Yeah, We Went there
Raining

(N.B. all of these can be replaced with "Snow" as needed.)
posted by quin at 10:52 AM on December 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


From SF but visiting friends in Vallejo for the weekend. It's not very windy here now, but the rain has been pelting down solidly for hours and the streets I can see are soggy but not flooded.

I don't have to go anywhere today, which is great, but my friends here have dogs who are very unhappy about being kept in and even unhappier when they actually get outside. One of them hasn't crapped since yesterday morning, he's that freaked out.
posted by vickyverky at 10:59 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm in the Bay and biked into work this morning. Storm didn't seem that bad and I got more wet walking into the office than I did while riding in.

Having lived in Cali for years (as well as Seattle and Massachusetts) I can't say I'm that impressed with this. The roads weren't any worse than I've seen before and the creeks that my bike path runs along looked no higher than I've seen before. I might have one branch of the bike trail closed after work.

I'd be more worried if I wasn't in the flat areas and was instead driving over any of the mountains around the Bay.
posted by caphector at 11:01 AM on December 11, 2014


Maybe I'm easy to impress, but I've never seen it take 90 minutes to get to SFO from my house because all the roads are flooded. Traffic sign now says all lanes on 101 south are now blocked at Grand because of flooding. And! Apparently the level at Lake Shasta has risen a foot! That is impressive!
posted by rtha at 11:14 AM on December 11, 2014


I am impressed that there is basically zero traffic over Donner Summit. Also, surf's up at Lake Tahoe (third picture down).
posted by mudpuppie at 11:25 AM on December 11, 2014




Yeah, I'd say the rain is about that bad. Wind was worse earlier.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:42 AM on December 11, 2014


The conflicting models are now in agreement that the storm will wallop the Puget Sound, rather than sweep off the coast/western Olympics.

- Oregon coast is getting slammed as the storm heads north--70+ mph gusts, heavy winds (65-70 mph) forecast for Long Beach Penninsula ~4pm
- Gusts ~30-40 knots in Seattle in the afternoon, strengthening ~7pm
- Nearly everyone in the Sound will experience gusts to 40-50 mph tonight and some more (coast, near the Sound, NW Washington)
- Super heavy winds in the San Juans and Victoria

If you commute by ferry, you'll probably want to cross before 6pm. Bring your Dramamine.
posted by prinado at 11:46 AM on December 11, 2014


Glad to see the Caltrans Donner Summit livecam is showing actual snow now.
posted by suelac at 11:55 AM on December 11, 2014


Surf is up in Tahoe! Not quite snowing yet here at 6700ft in Truckee. Amazingly windy though.
posted by carolr at 12:25 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


As of Noon, the "chance of precipitation" for San Luis Obispo was over 50% (with the forecast up to 100% by 10PM). But all we've had are intermittent sprinkles from 8AM-11AM totaling .07inches. And it has gotten less gloomy in the last hour here. The big radar map I follow shows the Big Storm slowly creeping down the coast after focusing on areas north of the SFBay all night. It has gotten as far as Salinas and Monterey in the last hour, so we could be '100%ing' in about 6 hours.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:30 PM on December 11, 2014


ok, i lol'd
posted by Evilspork at 1:20 PM on December 11, 2014 [10 favorites]


In case anyone was wondering, my bike commute was wonderful! Almost zero cars on the road on my route, very light rain, and a strong but not epic tailwind the whole way. Streets weren't anymore flooded than they usually are when it drizzles.

All my coworkers think I'm a badass, I have not corrected them.

lol Californians
posted by bradbane at 1:36 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've got some bad news for you about the winds on the ride home..
posted by Nelson at 1:42 PM on December 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


I was thinking the same thing, Nelson.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:02 PM on December 11, 2014


It's cool guys I'm a randonneur.

Now that time I got hailed on near Livermore, or caught in an actual thunderstorm in the Slovenian mountains when it was below freezing...
posted by bradbane at 2:08 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Glad I no longer live in San Bruno, because the wind rips through there on normal, calm days, so I'm sure it's really ripping now. For some reason they put the high voltage lines at the top of the ridge, I guess for maximum power outages.

Very true. I live right off Skyline in San Bruno, and our power went out for about two hours this morning--we lose power pretty much any time there's a big storm. My daughter's school closed today as well, though she seemed less excited than I was about it. The only time I can remember a school closure in the bay area was in 1977 when it snowed.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:14 PM on December 11, 2014


If the center of the storm has passed more or less over your route during the interim between your two rides, the wind will have approximately reversed itself anyway.
posted by jamjam at 3:14 PM on December 11, 2014


All the public schools in my city (Berkeley) are closed, and I can't quite figure out why? What's the main danger ... flash floods? Wind damage? As someone above noted, everything runs down to the Bay ...

It runs down to the bay, eventually, but may flood a street in the meanwhile as storm drains overflow.

Also, knocked down power lines and falling trees are a potential thing. I think the closures were about rain with high winds rather than just rain.
posted by zippy at 3:15 PM on December 11, 2014


It actually hasn't been too bad here. I keep checking power outages and we actually don't have ANY right now. No major damage has happened yet either. Go figure. The Bay Area flooding pics are pretty awful though.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:24 PM on December 11, 2014




Is that for real, rtha? I'm familiar with that undercrossing and the water doesn't look deep enough to be hiding underwater cars.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:32 PM on December 11, 2014


Well, that mega-storm was a mega-dud in my neck of the woods. (Except it got me a paid day off, which makes it a mega-win.) I guess some other places got hammered pretty hard though.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:40 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mudpuppie, there's another photo of the underpass in this photo round-up, where you can definitely see the cars and the depth of the water.


(also I have been making fun of LA for having early dismissals for rain, and while it's still funny, I did not realize until living here the extent that LA architecture is structured for sunny weather. Some schools and offices don't really have hallways, so the lockers/classroom doors face outside or otherwise involve the outside. School groups on field trips almost all seem to eat lunch outside where possible, necessitating a lot of rainy day workarounds. Outdoor malls! Outdoor markets with pitiful awnings! The idea of waiting for a bus at many stops in the weather we're supposed to get tomorrow is awful: a thirty minute wait + absolutely no cover + poor drainage? I realize this isn't true for every business and it's definitely not true further north, but navigating LA during the rain can legitimately be more annoying and difficult than it would be in, say, Philadelphia.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:50 PM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's pouring down rain here, but no wind and no downed trees or power outages in my area. There are a couple of squirrels in my yard, using their tails as umbrellas, and my cats are thrilled that the Kitty TV Channel is still on.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:56 PM on December 11, 2014


Mudpuppie, there's another photo of the underpass in this photo round-up, where you can definitely see the cars and the depth of the water.

Well, there certainly is! The first photo was missing some kind of point of reference for me, because the water didn't look more than a few feet deep.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:57 PM on December 11, 2014


This photo and caption... ("Paul L. of Austin, Texas sits in his [Mercedes Benz] rental car after it stopped in standing water while driving on San Bruno Avenue between Huntington Avenue and San Mateo Avenue on his way to the airport for a flight on Thursday, December 11, 2014 in San Bruno, Calif. That section of roadway was closed to traffic by barriers.")

No comment.
posted by wintersweet at 4:11 PM on December 11, 2014


Why was he even going to the airport, with most flights canceled and not even any food (because of the labor action)? Dope.
posted by rtha at 4:43 PM on December 11, 2014


Heh, more here, apparently. Still no comment.
posted by wintersweet at 4:44 PM on December 11, 2014


Boy, I like to mock not-Midwesterners for their weather wimpiness as much as anyone, but some of you guys are AWFULLY CAVALIER for folks sitting on a mud-slide-waiting-to-occur. I'm scared from here.

Also regarding "it'll just drain into the Bay" ... you're about to learn some fun life lessons about cholera, e coli, and storm sewer failure! (Actually they'll totally be fine life lessons because Modern Water Treatment, but your water will probably taste strongly of chlorine for a few days and if you're extra-lucky you'll get a 72-hour boil order, if your storm sewers get overwhelmed.)

Water draining down a freeway can also be extremely terrifying, even in very flat states. It happens fast, the water has limited options to run off and soak in, and it just picks up speed. If the rain comes down fast enough, cars can't get out of the way -- in Chicago. Would not like to attempt on a hill.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:50 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


A lot of the road flooding that I saw on the news this morning was happening in places I think of as "high ground" (e.g. Daly City), but of course, the water has to get to low ground somehow...

I saw photos of the guy who describes in wintersweet's second link hydroplaning his Prius into a field, and that's right on my commute route. Thank all I never even had to leave the house today.
posted by rtha at 4:55 PM on December 11, 2014


Flooding in the garage, but only a few inches at the deepest and I didn't have anything non-weatherproof stored there, thankfully. Really pumped that so far we haven't lost power (touch wood).

Paul L. of Austin, Texas sits in his [Mercedes Benz] rental car after it stopped in standing water while driving on San Bruno Avenue between Huntington Avenue and San Mateo Avenue on his way to the airport for a flight on Thursday, December 11, 2014 in San Bruno, Calif. That section of roadway was closed to traffic by barriers.

I was in NJ during Sandy and an EMT in my town died trying to check on a car (abandoned, as it turns out) that was in a flooded section of roadway. This dude seems appropriately contrite in the article where they interviewed him, and I totally understand that there were people out there who really didn't have a choice but to drive (doesn't sound like this was the case here) or were really misinformed about the hazards, but it's worth repeating that it's not just the people choosing to drive in this kind of weather who are assuming risk.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:56 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


(ah, shit, I misremembered and it was actually Irene -- which wasn't even as catastrophic a storm in NJ and which a lot of people were super cavalier about before it hit)
posted by en forme de poire at 5:00 PM on December 11, 2014


The first photo was missing some kind of point of reference for me, because the water didn't look more than a few feet deep.

That's how people figure they can drive through flooded out roads - it doesn't look all that bad to them, and they don't have any experience with how dangerous it is.
posted by thelonius at 5:05 PM on December 11, 2014


Thank all I never even had to leave the house today.

Oh geez, same here. I am checking up on my usual evening commute from the comfort of my apartment and there's a huge backup caused by a road closure/accident, which just happens to be congesting my least favorite section of freeway to drive in stormy weather. I feel so lucky to not be out there right now.
posted by phatkitten at 5:06 PM on December 11, 2014


The wind was picking up earlier down here, but now I think we're seeing the calm before the storm. All I know is the ocean is slate gray and the skies to the north are really dark.

navigating LA during the rain can legitimately be more annoying and difficult than it would be in, say, Philadelphia

People think Angelenos can't drive in the rain, but they should see them try to walk with an umbrella! It's as if people don't understand that umbrellas occupy the same 3-dimensional space as everything else!
posted by Room 641-A at 5:13 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


A lot of the road flooding that I saw on the news this morning was happening in places I think of as "high ground" (e.g. Daly City), but of course, the water has to get to low ground somehow...

Yeah, it's all about scale - while it may be high ground at a broad scale, at a fine scale that's still where all the water ends up.

I'm from western Oregon and we got atmospheric rivers and big floods every couple of years there. Whenever it happened, I'd spend the next week glued to our river hydrographs. The California Nevada River Forecast Center and the Northwest River Forecast Center (both run by NOAA) are where you want to look if you want to see how your local rivers are responding to the rain. Just looking at a few hydrographs from up near Redding, it's amazing how quickly this water rose and is expected to recede - it would have taken a whole week to get back below bankful in Oregon but it'll be done within a day there.

I'd usually be happy when it flooded in western Oregon because our wetlands and riparian areas were accustomed to a flood regime that has been rather starved by our river control systems in the last half-century. Even a slight return to historical flood frequencies was usually a good thing, at least for the wetlands and herons and oxbows and cottonwood groves.

I don't know much about California wetland and riparian ecology. Is this kind of flood within the normal disturbance regime for California? Is it likely to be so catastrophic that it will negatively affect wetlands and rivers (like by scouring fertile soils or causing changes to the plant community) or will this have a revitalizing effect on those ecosystems?
posted by dialetheia at 5:18 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


> most cities in CA don't have the drainage infrastructure that other places have because they don't get enough precipitation to make it worth building

$10.7 million to widen the floodplain of the Guadalupe River in a part of San José. They removed McClellan Ave. (old plat map in this PDF, recent satellite view) and tore down a bunch of houses that were squeezing the river against a freeway. That basin has sat empty for 3 years, but it's good it's there now.
posted by morganw at 5:33 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Guadalupe flooded to national disaster area levels in 1995 and again in 1997, prompting all the funding & work.
posted by morganw at 5:35 PM on December 11, 2014


Some schools and offices don't really have hallways, so the lockers/classroom doors face outside or otherwise involve the outside.

Yeah, my high school didn't have any indoor lunch area. We had benches with awnings, which kept the rain off (if it wasn't whipping around from all directions thanks to wind), but if you didn't want to spend your lunch huddled miserably in the cold and wet outside, you either had to decamp to one of the indoor hallways (where you had to be quiet because we had staggered lunches and there were still students in class) or seek refuge with a favorite teacher who had a free period. Attendance on rainy days always plummeted, to the point where it was something administrators addressed in campus-wide announcements telling students that a rainy day was no reason not to come to class.

So yeah, we're kind of wimpy about the weather, but there are a lot of ways in which life is a lot harder and more unpleasant in the rain because so much of our architecture and infrastructure isn't built for any kind of weather but pleasant. It's annoying with a car, and it's exponentially more annoying and unpleasant without one.
posted by yasaman at 5:38 PM on December 11, 2014


I don't know much about California wetland and riparian ecology. Is this kind of flood within the normal disturbance regime for California?

This is purely anecdotal -- I grew up a few miles east of Redding and there were several "creeks," which were only ever actually creeks late-fall to early-spring but which could get rip-roaring during a good storm, then quickly subside to a trickle between pools until the next rainfall event. So I'd say "normal" and "revitalizing."

We kids probably caused more harm to that process with the dams we liked to build.
posted by notyou at 5:39 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


you're about to learn some fun life lessons about cholera, e coli, and storm sewer failure! (Actually they'll totally be fine life lessons because Modern Water Treatment,

If they treat storm runoff, but I think it's pretty rare that they do. There'll be signs posted on the beach for the next week warning not to go in the water.
posted by LionIndex at 5:39 PM on December 11, 2014


LionIndex: "If they treat storm runoff, but I think it's pretty rare that they do. There'll be signs posted on the beach for the next week warning not to go in the water."

Older urban areas typically have mixed storm and sanitary sewers; huge storms overwhelm the systems that keep the storm runoff out of the sanitary system and wash lots of poop into the potable water intake. I mean it depends on where your drinking water comes from and the poop water goes to, but it's a pretty common problem.

(Oftentimes you actually do it on purpose, if the storm is big enough, to prevent the storm water from getting at other vital infrastructure, since you can treat the drinking water more easily than, say, un-flooding subway tunnels.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:48 PM on December 11, 2014


This dude seems appropriately contrite in the article where they interviewed him, and I totally understand that there were people out there who really didn't have a choice but to drive (doesn't sound like this was the case here) or were really misinformed about the hazards...

The thing about the dude from Austin is that Austin is subject to flash flooding. Austin had some really, really bad flash flooding just a couple months ago. The dude from Austin should have known damn well better than to drive that expensive rental car into water more than ~6" deep. It's not like big pools of water are any different in California than they are in Austin.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:00 PM on December 11, 2014


I mean it depends on where your drinking water comes from and the poop water goes to, but it's a pretty common problem.

Oh, yeah, I'm just saying at least in San Diego and probably other coastal CA areas, the storm and sewer are separate. Both flow to the ocean, but stormwater is untreated, so there's all kinds of nasty junk in it, including diseases (largely from pet waste). Beaches are closed for 72 hours or so after storms typically. Water for a urban areas in CA is generally provided via aqueduct from the mountains or Colorado River, so there's not too much of a worry about cross contamination.
posted by LionIndex at 6:44 PM on December 11, 2014


The Inner Sunset was fine all day, if wet and windy -- no power loss or leaky roofs here. I made a lovely fire and worked from home with Boyfriend for most of the day. I suspect I would've been really miserable if I'd tried to get to work downtown, though. Montgomery had no power and was closed all morning, and our lovable, unreliable Muni was likely an absolute shitshow. We were supposed to have our company holiday lunch in Berkeley this afternoon, which was summarily canceled around 10:30am for fear that people would get stuck on public transit.

And now the SFMTA Twitter is reporting that there are protestors at Powell and Market? There have been protests in the East Bay for the last few weeks, but nothing in SF. They're brave souls to go out tonight!
posted by Ragini at 6:48 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


[California school architecture derail because the storm has been pretty boring in my neighborhood]

California school buildings do tend to have a certain "look", but that's not just because of the climate. You see a lot of low, single-story, broad, heavily built buildings. Often the school is split up into many separate buildings with open paths between them. This is because California school buildings are required to withstand a lateral force equal to 3% of the building's total mass.

This unique architectural requirement came about because of the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, which destroyed many school buildings in the areas (fortunately after classes had let out for the day). The destruction of the schools led to the passage of the Field Act, one of the first laws in the US mandating earthquake-resistant construction.

Earthquake science and architecture was pretty crude in 1933, so the requirements written into the law were extremely conservative. But they have been very effective. Since 1940 no California school building constructed according to the Field Act has collapsed in an earthquake.
posted by ryanrs at 7:05 PM on December 11, 2014 [19 favorites]


Growing up in California, none of my schools had any internal hallways. Every classroom door opened directly to the exterior. Don't want panicked students getting trampled in the halls? Just don't build any hallways.
posted by ryanrs at 7:09 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Both flow to the ocean, but stormwater is untreated, so there's all kinds of nasty junk in it, including diseases (largely from pet waste). Beaches are closed for 72 hours or so after storms typically.

I include the beach warning in my standard replies to "moving to L.A." questions. But seriously, it stinks to high heaven. I mean, I can smell it in my apartment. It's so gross.

This unique architectural requirement came about because of the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, which destroyed many school buildings in the areas

You also see a lot of schools with bungalows. My elementary school building was damaged in the Sylmar Earthquake the year before we moved to California and the entire school was in bungalows. Three of the four other schools I went to did have a (retrofitted) big brick building, but all had many, many bungalows, I assume to accommodate L.A.'s growing population. (This was all in L.A. proper.) But there was no need to build anything else more weather-resistant.

Anyway, I'm going to close my windows tight now before I forget since the storm should be here in a few hours.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:34 PM on December 11, 2014


Ragini, protestors have been active in SF for much of the last few weeks. Here's some superficial results for #BlackLivesMatter SF. (Not all posts are of SF events, but at least one is and it dates back to Dec 3.)

I've encountered SF protestors on my nightly bike rides at least 4 times in the past 10 days.
posted by mistersquid at 8:47 PM on December 11, 2014


Wind just arrived here, north of Seattle.
posted by KathrynT at 9:12 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


“Despite my Ph.D., I obviously am quite stupid a lot of the time.”
Sir, I love your honesty.

In other news, the streets are filled with water, anger.

I'm still debating whether or not to go to Daly City this weekend....but apparently that's hella flooded, so I dunno about this.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:22 PM on December 11, 2014


It has been significantly less than the Raingarok that was foretold here down by Sacramento. Last week's storm was worse.
posted by ckape at 9:22 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow, Socal kid here and it literally never occurred to me until this thread that in other places kids at school might eat lunch indoors in a room built for that purpose. Wasn't that room very loud? In elementary school they would institute "rainy day schedule" and have kids eat in their classrooms but as older kids we ate outdoors rain or shine, or begged a teacher to let us in if it was pouring.

In Seattle area now and the wind is crazy loud. Glad to hear this is remarkable weather because I don't like it. We have a lot of tall trees around our house and they are making some pretty intense noises.
posted by town of cats at 9:52 PM on December 11, 2014


It's raining here in Santa Monica, with mandatory evacuations flash flood warnings in the burn areas around Glendora in NE L.A. County. Be safe everyone.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:07 PM on December 11, 2014


Former Midwesterner here. 15 years of snow driving. Nary an accident. My one accident was hydroplaning in LA. I totaled my car. It was slicker than any ice I'd been on in the Midwest.
posted by persona au gratin at 10:29 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I counted 6 single car accidents on my 20 mile round-trip commute this evening. You hit the "puddle" at 60 mph, hit the brakes even a little, and you're right into the median barrier.

Other than the lack of actual storm sewers on the freeways, resulting in all those "I-280 is a swimming pool" photos I have seen posted, I notice out here that the highways typically have a complete lack of camber which severely impacts drainage speed. It's to the point where in even light rain you can hydroplane almost anywhere.
posted by MillMan at 10:40 PM on December 11, 2014


Wow, Socal kid here and it literally never occurred to me until this thread that in other places kids at school might eat lunch indoors...
I'm from the southeast, and it's very common to walk into a door when you arrive, spend the entire day indoors (excepting phys. ed. class, where you leave the gym, run around the track, and come back into the gym), and not touch un-conditioned air until you leave. In fact, one of my highschools was build in the '40s and you could go anywhere in the school without exposing yourself to the sky overhead.

It's interesting to me how quickly you adjust to outdoors-oriented life, though. After our first summer here in the SF Bay Area, I had to remind myself (in a remarkable sort of way) that "outdoors" was a storage option that goes away in the wet season. This only short months after living in a place where using "outdoors" as storage meant you were surrendering your wares to the elements. When I go places with mosquitos and humidity, it's always a rude surprise when I default to dining outside and am subsequently miserable.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 11:00 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's raining pretty steadily here in North Hollywood now. Hope it stays that way for a while. We need the rain.
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:30 PM on December 11, 2014


Ugh ugh ugh. An. EBS warning through my phone woke me up about 20 minutes ago and the gutters are already close to overflowing onto the sidewalk.

The screen and curtains in front of the enormous casement window that finally seemed to be fixed are damp, but now I can see the window frame is definitely bent because the curtains are billowing even though it is tightly closed. I can deal with damp. I can't deal with another breach. Wundrground is saying 14mph winds, but I live on the top floor of a tall building and the winds really freak me out. And this is probably nothing compared to what's going on all around me. Ugh. Bad. Small bug out kit prepared.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:30 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I grew up in California and all my schools had open corridors. My high school was several wings of classrooms with uncovered cement walkways in between. On rainy days we huddled in the hallways or squeezed into the one multipurpose room. I live in Massachusetts now where all the schools are fully enclosed buildings. It's still a little weird to me!

Anyone in Sacramento? I hope there is no flooding. I always worry about those developments in Natomas. I remember when they weren't allowed to build there because of the flood plain.
posted by apricot at 4:56 AM on December 12, 2014


Apricot, I'll bet even the individual wings weren't whole buildings, from a structural standpoint, right? But rather adjacent independent buildings with connecting roofs which made it look like the wing was a solid unit. Think about which walls were interior partition walls, and which were full-on exterior load bearing walls.

I went to a 2,000 student high school where no building had more than four classrooms. I didn't even realize this was weird until I noticed that schools in movies didn't look like that.
posted by ryanrs at 5:19 AM on December 12, 2014


Sacramento Bee article. Things were more or less okay, really.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:23 AM on December 12, 2014


Wow, Socal kid here and it literally never occurred to me until this thread that in other places kids at school might eat lunch indoors in a room built for that purpose. Wasn't that room very loud?

Oh my goodness, yes, they were very loud. In middle school and high school we were often allowed to go outside after we finished eating, though.
posted by jaguar at 6:45 AM on December 12, 2014


> "streets are filled with water, anger."

"The drains, she said, reach their capacity and there is nowhere for the water to go."

Because, in 2014, we still haven't invented the pump?

Rivers in the more suburban or small town areas in central CA have levees and pumps to raise storm drain water up to the rivers' levels, which can be higher than the streets during storms. You can see them if you cycle the Guadalupe River or San Lorenzo River trails. If Manhattan could build subway ventilation facilities into fake buildings because there isn't enough room in the tunnels, SF could have some pump buildings, no?

Oh, yes, they have generators, too, so can run independently. Maybe I should entice Telstar Logistics to expand his area of interest & do a storm infrastructure photo essay. People complained when the Felton plant was refurbished with shiny new pumps and pipes, so a fence was erected, but I liked seeing that it was in good repair.
posted by morganw at 7:37 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Anyone in Sacramento? I hope there is no flooding. I always worry about those developments in Natomas. I remember when they weren't allowed to build there because of the flood plain.

The danger in Natomas is a levee breach. It's been so dry that the river isn't near flood stage. That said, the levees are old and weren't well constructed in the first place. (Built by farmers, in some cases.) They've done work to shore them up, but who the hell knows whether it was enough. In any case, don't worry about Natomas until a couple more of these storms roll through.

(Oh hey, here's a good article. "After New Orleans, Sacramento – which sits at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers and near the Delta – is the nation’s most flood-prone city.")
posted by mudpuppie at 8:33 AM on December 12, 2014


For people smirking about overreaction, can I point out that at my house, we got a full quarter of the entire average yearly rainfall in sixteen hours. I doubt Seattle would be casual about 9 inches in 16 hours, or that Miami would laugh off 15 inches.
posted by tavella at 9:23 AM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Mudpuppie: I've lived in Sacramento for twenty years and I don't know that I share your concerns as deeply about the levees here. That "Special to the Bee" is an op-ed piece, right? A notably similar piece of hand-wringing appeared in the NY Times penned with perhaps more cred but hangs on megastorms or an earthquake which are both pretty hand-of-god events. If we're underwater from a megastorm so is most of the central valley and I'm sure goodly portions of the Bay Area. From a risk standpoint I can't see how we're worse off than Quaketopia to the east. No flood risk in Napa! No rivers running past the Marina District!

The future: who can say. Much of the Bay Area will be underwater in a few generations: TI ain't gonna magically float up when the water rises. We'll be in saltier, deeper trouble up here too. I think there are places down the delta whose levees aren't worth the silt they are constructed of and they are also going to have interesting times as future sandbars as they return to their marshy roots. Which hey, good for the ecosystem.

Right now the storm, kinda meh here in Tomatoville. Last week's thunderstorms delivered more excitement and local flooding I think. Biggest problem we have out here is leaves clogging storm drains.

In the meantime, levee decertification had some bad effects. Y'all like living next to a burned lot -- forever? Much of the contention around the levee cert -- I believe about what it is all around here -- some have argued is nonsense. There are easements that aren't being properly maintained, not like there's a fundamental structural flaw Biggest levee concern is whether the Army Core is going to pull all the trees standing on the levee themselves as that's a post-Katrina mandate. Make things look like crap some parts of the AR trail: people are questioning whether that's worth it as well.

Army Core has made the last several years of my life riding along its levees kind of interesting: the regularity of project work makes me believe they are serious about maintenance here. Right now they are refilling the slurry walls, last summer it was plugs and a big chunk of overfill upriver of Howe. If you want to go back to 1862 you'd need to kick down the levees, rupture the dams and dig out the infill the west side got in the years since: Old Town is second story, y'all.

Its gonna happen, sure. Urbs indomita. We'll have dug our neighbors to the south and west out several times before then.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:53 AM on December 12, 2014


Well, I wouldn't be living next to a burned lot because I don't think anyone should be living in the Natomas floodplain. So I'd suggest the government buy out the burned lot and turn it back into wetlands.
posted by tavella at 11:03 AM on December 12, 2014


Not worrying is your prerogative, Ogre Lawless. I'm on the other side of the causeway, so I feel safe regardless.

(I covered flood control issues for the now-defunct Natomas Journal about 10 years ago. What knowledge I have of the levee system comes from talking regularly with SAFCA and DWR folks. Back when I was on top of the issue, they reluctantly admitted that the levee system was a time bomb. I haven't followed it as closely in recent years, so they may be sleeping easier these days after the work they've done.)
posted by mudpuppie at 11:08 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I got curious about wetland ecology in the Central Valley and did a little research. People always underestimate the extent to which flooding is driven by the ecosystems in the surrounding landscape, as opposed to focusing on the precipitation events themselves. After looking into this stuff, I am 0% surprised that short-lived high-pulse flooding is the new normal here when there are big storms.

According to this USGS Central Valley wetlands report, fully 94% of the historical wetlands in that region have been destroyed! No wonder flooding is such a big deal when California does get some rain - when you eliminate wetlands, you drastically reduce the amount of water that can be stored on the landscape as well as the buffering capacity against huge storms like this. Page 3 from this mapping project of the historical Central Valley habitats is absolutely breathtaking - basically the entire valley used to be a freshwater wetland and it's all agriculture now. Page 6 is great too, showing historical flooding of the Sacramento River and talking about the old high-frequency low-severity flood regime that's been completely changed by modern river control systems and land use changes. Honestly that whole website is fantastic and worth reading. I hope that this brief flood event was good for the tiny patches of wetlands that still remain there, and I hope that everyone remembers this event next time somebody wants to fill in and develop over your local wetlands and riparian areas. You'll regret it next time there's a big rainstorm.

The flooding may be a response to a pretty severe rain event, but the most important factors in the way that precipitation affected the landscape relate to the loss of those wetland ecosystems and thoughtless design of the built environment (e.g. poorly built retaining walls collapsing, roads built without consideration of water pooling or drainage, etc). Instead of shrugging about the weird weather, I really wish that people would use events like these as an impetus to improve the built environment and conserve the ecosystems that buffer these sorts of events.
posted by dialetheia at 11:45 AM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


This wikipedia article about the Great Flood of 1862 and its effects on the Central Valley is also very interesting reading if you're interested in California's historical flood regime.
posted by dialetheia at 11:48 AM on December 12, 2014


Thanks for the Wiki link, dialetheia. This NYT article from January 1862 is also really fascinating. It talks about how, after the levee was breached and flooded Sacramento, it ended up keeping water in the city.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:47 PM on December 12, 2014


Hey, how's everyone up north doing?
posted by Room 641-A at 1:19 PM on December 12, 2014


Up in my neck of the woods in Bothell, a northern suburb of Seattle, things are calm and dry. There was enough debris on the roads to cause my whole district to start two hours late, though, and three of the area schools were without power as of 8 AM and had to cancel school.
posted by KathrynT at 1:37 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hey, how's everyone up north doing?

It was terrible. I was trapped in my apartment by the rain,and I ran out of bottled water. I nearly died of thirst, I tell ya.
posted by happyroach at 11:04 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I got to feel insanely old by raking the 1/4 mile of road free of debris in front of my house, and coming in and curling into a ball of "hey, old dude, you don't get to sit on your ass for 364 days a year and then go vigorously exercise for four hours without feeling it".

Our power was out for about 36 hours, I'd guess.
posted by maxwelton at 10:04 AM on December 13, 2014


"That fucking tree is gone, yo!" (NSFW)
posted by Room 641-A at 5:19 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


"How much rainfall has hit California in the last 10 days?

Ten trillion gallons, according to Ryan Maue.

That’s enough to fill 15.1 million Olympic-sized swimming pools or power Niagara Falls for 154 days."
posted by rtha at 2:06 PM on December 18, 2014


Halfway there.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:21 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


WHOOOOA-HO, LIVING ON A sorry, it's a reflex at this point
posted by en forme de poire at 3:23 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


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