Near-record rain deluges The City, paralyzing traffic

A heavy downpour wreaked havoc on The City on Monday night and Tuesday morning, flooding a section of the Great Highway, snarling parts of the morning commute and causing damage to an Ashbury Heights home.

The storm, which according to the National Weather Service contributed to the second wettest Dec. 12 since 1864, came from the Pacific Northwest and dropped 2.32 inches of rain on San Francisco between 10 p.m. Monday and 3 p.m. Tuesday, causing flooding and damage.

The southbound section of the Great Highway between Lincoln Way and Sloat Boulevard was forced to close from 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. after huge puddles made driving treacherous, according to Christine Falvey, public information officer for the Department of Public Works.

“We’ve had a few calls about falling tree limbs as well,” Falvey added.

Mike Wright, spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, reported that the storm’s rainfall was hazardous to drivers who did not take greater precautions. Backups were reported throughout Bay Area highways and on city streets where standing water and puddles made the commute difficult. Westbound drivers on Interstate 80 trying to get over the Bay Bridge and into The City faced huge backups, though traffic dissipated west of the toll plaza as the morning wore on.

Collisions also increased during the storm, but a percentage or specific number was not immediately available, Wright said. The CHP responded to an injury rollover accident on the Bay Bridge just west of the toll plaza around 7 a.m.

“The roads out there are slick, and people are just not slowing down,” Wright said.

“We ask that you increase your following distance and decrease your speed. After all, 65 mph is the rate intended for a perfect day. With this weather, it should be 55 or 50.”

Meanwhile, an early report of damage came at about 3:35 a.m. Tuesday, after a section of a 300-foot sewer pipe already damaged by constricting tree roots at Stanyan and Belgrave streets gave way when rain saturated the area, sending rushing water into a hillside home and flooding its lower floor. A warehouse was also flooded by rainfall backup at Indiana and Cesar Chavez streets, said Tony Winnicker, spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

“Although it seems like the worst is behind us, we will continue to monitor and prioritize areas [that might flood] in the event of another storm,” Winnicker said. He said residents should also keep an eye on storm drains in their neighborhoods and report clogs to (415) 695-2096.

This week’s weather will remain partly or mostly cloudy, with a chance of rain through Friday, and a high surf warning will remain in effect, according to the National Weather Service.

eeconomides@examiner.com

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