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Flood advisories in effect across Bay Area; rains slow travelers at SFO, OAK, SJC

Rainwater gathers to create moderate flooding at the intersection.
Rainwater gathers to create moderate flooding at the intersection of 21st and Harrison Streets near Lake Merritt in Oakland on Wednesday. | Source: RJ Mickelson/The Standard

Flood advisories were in effect across the Bay Area on Wednesday morning as heavy rain pummeled the area and its airports. Travelers at San Francisco International Airport were facing dozens of delays and cancellations, according to data from FlightAware.

As of 7:30 a.m., 71 flights were delayed, and two—one from United Airlines and one from SkyWest—had been canceled. By 10:30 a.m., that number had risen to 165 flights.

Early tallies found United Airlines had the most delays with 19, followed by Southwest with 17, SkyWest with eight, Delta with five and British Airways with four. More than 15 flights coming into SFO were late, while more than 50 leaving the airport were behind schedule. By mid-morning, United and SkyWest saw 57 and 33 delayed flights respectively, while the airport had 81 delayed arrivals and 84 delayed departures.

A line of people in dark clothing with suitcases stands under fluorescent lights in a high ceilinged room.
Travelers faced long lines for security at San Francisco International Airport's Terminal 2 on Wednesday. | Source: Sophie Bearman/The Standard

The other two major San Francisco Bay Area airports were also dealing with delayed arrivals and departures for flights Wednesday.

At Oakland International Airport, eight flights were delayed from Southwest, and one flight from SkyWest had been canceled. By mid-morning, a total of 42 flights were delayed, with two additional Southwest flights canceled. At San Jose's Mineta International Airport, five flights had been delayed by 7:35 a.m., increasing by mid-morning to 28 flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a traffic management program early Wednesday for SFO, saying some arriving flights would see delays averaging around 59 minutes due to low ceilings and wind. A similar program on Tuesday saw delays averaging 55 minutes.

A social media post from the National Weather Service Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service issued an urban and small-streaming flood advisory for the city of San Francisco on Wednesday morning. Downtown San Francisco recorded 0.42 inches of rain between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Flood advisories were also in effect Wednesday morning for Marin and Sonoma counties, where between 0.5 and 1.25 inches of rain had fallen by daybreak. Areas that were expected to see flooding included Santa Rosa, Petaluma, San Rafael, Novato, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, Larkspur, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Corte Madera, Tiburon, Cloverdale, Fairfax, Sebastopol, Cotati, Sausalito, Tomales and Roseland.

Flood advisories were also in effect for Alameda, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Contra Costa and Monterey counties. Some locations that were expected to experience flooding according to the weather service were San Jose, Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Berkeley, Richmond, San Leandro, Alameda, Union City, Milpitas, Newark, San Pablo, El Cerrito, San Lorenzo, Castro Valley, Albany, Pinole and Orinda.

A person crosses a wet street with steam rising from a manhole. It's a gloomy, overcast day.
A person stands over a cloud of steam rising from a manhole at Polk and Grove Streets in San Francisco on Wednesday | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

National Weather Service meteorologist Brayden Murdock told The Standard that rains were still slightly behind pace for the rain year-to-date totals.

"The fact that we didn't get a big October atmospheric river is why we're seeing such a difference in numbers," Murdock said Wednesday. "To say that we're too far from average, I mean, that's not completely fair."

A social media post from UC Berkeley's Central Sierra Snow Lab shares word of light snow readings after recent storm systems.

In the weather service's Sacramento office, meteorologist Scott Rowe told The Standard that the storm system's warmth meant only minor amounts of snow at or above 7,000 to 8,000 feet.

"For interior northern California, it is largely a rain event, including in the mountains," Rowe said Wednesday. "Most of the precipitation has wrapped up, with more significant accumulations of snowfall from Yosemite National Park southward in the High Sierra elevations."

Rowe said he expected relatively quiet weather over the Christmas weekend, but added that a cooler system due around the middle of next week could bode well for snow prospects.

In San Francisco, Muni said due to track flooding on the Embarcadero, F Market streetcars would switchback at the Ferry Building and bus shuttles would provide service along the Embarcadero in both directions between Fisherman's Wharf and the Ferry Building.

BART trains were running on a slower schedule due to wet tracks.

Rachel Gordon, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Works, told The Standard that crews had responded Tuesday to about 150 blocked catch basins, as well as a tree down on a car, 14 downed small branches and about a dozen rain-related potholes.

Gordon added that workers have also handed out close to 800 sandbags to city residents since last weekend, and had not encountered significant flooding Tuesday in the wake of about a dozen instances Monday of minor localized flooding due to clogged catch basins. No property damage was reported in those incidents, she said.

George Kelly can be reached at gkelly@sfstandard.com