Strong winds and heavy rainfall that began Wednesday afternoon are already causing trees to topple, knocking down power lines and causing some power outages. Some 41,189 Peninsula customers were without power as of 7:45 p.m., by 9:15 a.m. Thursday 26,997 still didn't have power, according to a PG&E news release.
Around 2,500 households and businesses in unincorporated areas of Redwood City, Woodside and Atherton along Woodside Road lost power Wednesday afternoon and were still in the dark around 7 p.m. PG&E does not have an estimated time of restoration. By Thursday morning, about 220 of those customers were still without power.
Police shut down Middlefield Road between Ravenswood and Oak Grove avenues in both directions in Atherton in front of Menlo-Atherton High School because of flooding Wednesday evening, according to a news bulletin. The road reopened by 7:45 a.m. on Thursday.
About 870 Atherton households lost power when winds knocked down power lines around Fair Oaks Lane, according to PG&E's website around 3:54 p.m.. Police shut down from Fair Oaks at El Camino Real to the Caltrain tracks around 5:30 p.m., according to a town news alert. The road reopened by 7:45 a.m. on Thursday and power was restored by the morning.
Atherton Town Hall and its neighbors (about 60) are without electricity Thursday morning, as PG&E crews work to restore power, which is estimated to be back up and running around 3 p.m., according to City Manager George Rodericks. The library also doesn't have power.
A tree branch leaning on one of the power lines caused some sparks at Webb Ranch, 2720 Alpine Road, in Portola Valley Wednesday around 7:40 p.m., according to the Fire Dispatch service and Atlee Frechette, Webb Ranch's farm manager. The county fire department was on the scene and there was no damage to the ranch, she said.
Around 220 residents are without power in Woodside east of Interstate 280 on Wednesday evening, not far from where a tree went down off Woodside road.
Swathes of Woodside west of 280 also lost power on Wednesday evening.
"There are trees down, but town crews and private contractors are clearing them quickly," said Woodside Mayor Chris Shaw in an email. "The town crews have been amazing over the past week. Their response times to trees downed or culverts blocked has been rapid and effective. It is important to remember that the town proactively clears, repairs, and replaces culverts/drainages year-round to be as prepared as possible for events like these. The amount of extraordinary amount water dropped in the mountains simply overwhelmed many areas in town."
Wires were down at 232 Blakewood Way off of Highway 35 in Woodside, close to Alice's Restaurant, but no sparks were flying at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, according to the Fire Dispatch.
By Wednesday afternoon there were downed trees reported on La Honda and Fox Hill roads near the Thornewood Open Space Preserve in Woodside.
A large tree fell down, partially blocking traffic, on Monterey Avenue and Alameda de Las Pulgas in front of Bob's Country Corner in Menlo Park in West Menlo Park around 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
Wires were also reported down at 878 College Ave. near Nealon Park in Menlo Park.
At 6:38 p.m., there was flooding in East Palo Alto, with 4 inches of water reported at the intersection of Illinois Street and Purdue Avenue.
Atherton police reported at 8:10 p.m. that Middlefield Road between Ravenswood and Oak Grove avenues is closed in both directions due to flooding. The estimated time to open the roadway was unknown.
At midnight, the city of Menlo Park announced, "the flood risk is low, but rain will continue to fall overnight. Staff will continue to monitor water levels overnight and work to address surface level flooding issues, clear storm drains and address any downed trees."
The town of Woodside has opened a Temporary Evacuation Point available in Independence Hall, 2955 Woodside Road. It will be open from the following times:
• Jan. 4: 5 to 11:59 p.m.
• Jan. 5: midnight to 1 a.m. and 6 to 8 a.m.
Special meeting in Menlo Park Thursday night
Menlo Park will be holding an emergency meeting on Thursday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m. to possibly ratify a proclamation from City Manager Justin Murphy declaring a state of emergency for Menlo Park.
A state of emergency for Menlo Park allows the city to designate evacuation routes, closing dangerous streets and obtaining necessary supplies for the safety of residents and property.
Warnings and preparation going into Wednesday
One markedly unusual part of the Wednesday storm is high winds, as high as 70 miles per hour along the coast and 50 miles per hour elsewhere, San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy said during a press briefing on Wednesday, before the brunt of the storm hit. A high wind warning is in effect in the Bay Area until Thursday morning at 10 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. Winds are expected to hit 40 miles per hour in Woodside and Portola Valley at 10 p.m. on Wednesday.
"If you don't need to travel, please stay at home during this storm," Callagy warned residents, urging them to sign up for SMC Alerts to receive emergency information.
The county secured 160 hotel rooms for displaced residents, including the inhabitants of the entire Harbor Village Mobile Home Park in Redwood City, which flooded, he said Wednesday afternoon. The county also plans to open up 70 beds in a congregate shelter at College of San Mateo in San Mateo. Cañada College in Woodside and Skyline College in San Bruno could also be used to house people, he said.
Food is being provided to displaced residents through local nonprofits the Red Cross, LifeMoves and Samaritan House, Callagy said.
The county has gone through 18,000 of the 24,000 sandbags it ordered for last week's storm and is ordering more with the likelihood of ongoing rain in the foreseeable future, he said.
"There doesn't seem to be enough sandbags anywhere and every agency has gone through them very quickly," he said.
Local schools asked all staff and students to leave campuses by 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, cancelling classes on Thursday. Some private schools opted to cancel classes all of Wednesday. Menlo School in Atherton moving to remote learning for he grades 6 to 12 preemptively on Wednesday.
Businesses closed their doors earlier than usual on Wednesday in anticipation of the storm. The Atherton and North Fairs Oaks libraries closed early (at 5 p.m.) on Wednesday and Little Sky Bakery opted to close its retail store in downtown Menlo Park, at 1:30 p.m.
The Alpine Inn in Portola Valley closed early Wednesday night because of a power outage, the restaurant posted on social media.
With the severe rain over this last week, flooding occurred in and around Menlo-Atherton High School, though there was little to no damage done to the buildings, according to Sequoia Union High School District spokesperson Richard Gebin. Students are on winter break until classes resume next week.
"We are watching Menlo-Atherton closely for flooding on campus," Gebin said in an email. "The goal is to keep the water out of our buildings."