San Francisco Public Utility Commission Wastewater employees deploy flood barriers along Folsom Street near the intersection with 17th Street. (Kevin N. Hume/2018 S.F. Examiner)

San Francisco Public Utility Commission Wastewater employees deploy flood barriers along Folsom Street near the intersection with 17th Street. (Kevin N. Hume/2018 S.F. Examiner)

City braced for first major winter storm of season

By Keith Burbank

Bay City News Service

Preparations are underway in San Francisco for heavy wind and rain expected from Tuesday into Wednesday morning, city officials said Monday.

The atmospheric river event, the first major storm of the season, is expected to bring 2 to 3 inches of rain and wind gusts of up to 60 mph to the city limits, according to the National Weather Service, which issued a high wind warning for the city Monday evening.

The storm could cause power outages, knock down trees and limbs and leave some intersections and highway entrances and exits flooded.

“The first major winter storm of the season is here and we’re asking San Franciscans to do their part by looking out for each other, having your emergency supplies ready, and avoiding any unnecessary travel,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

She said city workers are ready to manage potential impacts to the city’s pandemic response and city operations.

To avoid unnecessary risk, some outdoor COVID-19 testing sites will close or reduce their hours. Residents are encouraged to call 311 or visit www.sf.gov/gettestedsf to see if their testing site will be open.

People who know they have been exposed to the coronavirus or are having symptoms should remain quarantined while they wait for a test.

Testing at the Potrero Hill Health Center at 1050 Wisconsin St. ended at noon Tuesday and will start again Friday morning. The testing at Pier 30-32 will stop at 4 p.m. Tuesday and other locations may adjust their hours, according to city officials.

COVID-19 vaccinations taking place at City College of San Francisco at 50 Frida Kahlo Way also stopped at noon Tuesday and will stay closed through Thursday. City officials said people affected will be contacted and their appointments rescheduled.

City officials are preparing for the storm in other ways, too. The homeless outreach team will be out with water, socks and blankets and encourage people to use the resources available to come inside.

At Safe Sleeping Villages in the city, intakes will continue during the storm. Tarps will be placed over and under tents and in some cases pallets or platforms will be placed under tents to keep people dry. Ponchos and Mylar blankets will be given out if needed, city officials said.

The weather will be “a bit of a concern for the city,” National Weather Service meteorologist Gerry Diaz said of San Francisco.

Catch basins are being cleaned, an interlocking flood barrier was deployed along 17th and Folsom streets and extra crews are being deployed to respond to downed trees and limbs.

City officials said engineers on Monday assessed landslide-prone areas to put precautions in place and inspectors were working with contractors to secure construction zones in the public right-of-way.

Elsewhere in the Bay Area, officials issued evacuation orders Monday for parts of San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties due to the possibility of debris flows caused by the expected rain.

The warnings centered on areas burned by the recent CZU Lightning Complex fires.

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