EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Flood | Baghdad By The Bay

Posts Tagged 'flood'

#Stormaggedon

Lightning Storm - Golden Gate BridgeOK, we got wet. We got real wet, but everyone is making fun of us about it now. Some are calling it the storm that wasn’t, but I think we handled it pretty well.

San Francisco got 3.5″ of rain [some places like the Sunset District actually got 4″]. That’s a lot of water and it was the 11th wettest day in SF history. It just didn’t seem like it because it was something San Francisco rarely gets — warm rain. When it rains in San Francisco there’s usually lots of big huge cold drops that chill you to the bone. This was a lot of small rain drops that constantly kept coming with no let up. People focused on the rain, but that wasn’t what they needed to focus on.

Wind was a bit of a problem and the lack of proper drainage caused the real problems. San Francisco was ready for the most part though. STAY HOME. Was the phrase of the day and people listened. That was even easier when most of the power was out east of Stanyan Street and North of Market. Nobody had much reason to go into work if there was no power. Lots of my friends where told not to bother going into work because there was no power so that stopped a lot of problems from happening. There was less traffic on the roads so there were less crashes even though there were quite a few car drownings outside of SF, mostly in the East Bay and down on the Peninsula.

These were in large part why we didn’t have many problems. We were prepared. They compared it to the last big storm in 2008. It wasn’t quite that bad and I actually had to drive to work in Burlingame that day and the wind was so bad that I got blown off the road when a big rig that was next to me sped up and the wind it was blocking suddenly whipped around and hit my car causing me to fishtail off to the side of the road. The puddles were bad from the flooding because they were big and muddy and when a car next to you hits one your windshield suddenly becomes a wall. If you’re traveling at 60mph this can be kind of scary, but most people weren’t out driving.

Power outages are something that we have to deal with from time to time so I think most of us were prepared. I was lucky in that we stayed connected the whole time. For the most part, San Francisco fared pretty well.

432819_1280x720On the other hand apparently people in the East Bay and Peninsula weren’t used to having to deal with lots of rain and the biggest problem was the sewer systems couldn’t handle it. There were lots of flooding in the normal places like freeway underpasses, but there were also some flat areas that from pictures looked a lot like New Orleans after the levees broke during Katrina. Hopefully those areas will think about that now and clean out their sewer lines before the next storms come through which should be happening soon. San Francisco needs to think about this as well. I noticed there were several sewer crews out after the storm unsealing sewer lines that were plugged that probably wouldn’t have happened if they had taken care of it before the storm.

On the upside, all of California got really wet and contrary to what some people have been saying, yes, this did make a dent in the drought. More rain is coming and that will make things much better. Northern California got the most rain with some places getting over a foot of rain in one day. We’ll still need quite a few good soakings to help fill up the reservoirs where waters had dropped severely over the past few years and we aren’t out of the darkness yet, but it is getting better. Oddly enough, this was something I was saying several months ago about El Niño. Yeah, I pretty much predicted that one accurately. December and January were always our coldest and wettest months of the year. El Niño just made them warm and wetter. Expect to see more heavy rains, probably not quite as big as the last storm, but overall this will help California and the drought quite a bit.

Just a last note, you all know how much I love to put photos in with my articles, but for some reason I’ve run into a little problem I need to fix that’s not allowing me to post photos at the moment. This is not fun as I collected lots of storm porn photos to share with you.

Tsunami’s vs. San Francisco

I was watching tv last night and the topics of tsunami’s came up again as it has frequently since the Japanese earthquake/tsunami. We in San Francisco have it pretty good if we’re hit by a tsunami and let me tell you why.

First we’re pretty hilly on the coast. Our natural seawall at the beach is about 20 ft. high. That means that the tsunami that hit Japan would possibly leave a few puddles if there was enough force to push it up and over the sea wall. For the most part it would swirl around into the bay weakening its force and the SOMA area with it’s 10 ft high piers would get the worse of it which still wouldn’t be much.

My house is roughly 213 ft above sea level so we would need a huge tsunami wave to cause any damage to our house from a wave hitting the coast. The worst problem we might have is from the storm drains overflowing. There have been times of high rain that the storm drains can’t handle the amount of water so the you’ll see man hole covers lifted up under the pressure and water pouring out and down the streets. Since the water can’t go back into the drains you will literally get  rivers of water flowing downhill to the beach where it collects at the sand dunes without enough power to flow over and even then there might only be a few inches gathered.

The photo included with this post is all CGI and since it exists in someone’s photoshop mind and has yet to be documented we don’t have much to worry about. A tsunami in San Francisco would come from our storm drains before it would come from the sea. Alameda on the other hand, beware.

Wild Weekends & Disasters

OK, so here’s the deal. I’ve decided that Monday’s through Friday’s I will post articles about San Francisco. On the weekends if I get some time I’ll post bonus material that can be about anything in particular, stream of consciousness rants, whatever. I’ll call these wild weekend articles. That being said today I want to talk about…

Disasters. We hear about them all the time. Earthquakes in Japan, tornados in the midwest, hurricanes in the south and east. What I find funny is that people who live in the areas where it seems like they have to buy a new house every year have all said to me, California’s nice, but I could never live there because of the earthquakes.

I’ve lived in San Francisco my entire life and the only time there was a disaster that set us back was in 1989 when the 6.9 earthquake set us back a day. We lost power for about four hours and our phone lines were screwed up for about four days and that was it. Our house survived quite well as it was bolted to the foundation and the only thing in our house that got damaged was a ceramic goblet that I bought at the renaissance faire that fell off a shelf.

Yes, you don’t know when they are coming and when they do they’re usually very loud and scary, but they’re over shortly and life goes back to normal. I think the scene from L.A. Story where Steve Martin is sitting at a cafe with a group of people when an earthquake hits and they are all going about their business because it’s no big deal. It really isn’t that big a deal unless you might happen to live in a liquifaction area such as the Marina which really had only the area North of Chestnut street affected.

Yes, I did get hit with a few falling bricks and some flying glass shards from a broken window when the quake hit in 1989, but  because we get quakes often enough we know what to do and we’re prepared. So why is it then that other parts of the country that get hit by large hurricanes and tornados every year get warnings and aren’t prepared? Looks like a cat 5 is coming, ah nothing to worry about we’ll get by. Seriously? I know a lot of friends in hurricane country who do get out in time and hope their home is still there when they get back and in a lot of cases it is there, but they still get affected in some way much worse that us people who live in earthquake country. Like having to throw out their refrigerators because of the toxic mess that’s accumulated in the week or so they’ve been gone and the fridge has been off.

Well what about the Northridge quake? Yep, that one was pretty bad when it happened over 30 years ago. We don’t get blizzard conditions in the winter or heat waves in the summer. We’re lucky to see the temperature go past 100° for more than a couple of days [except for perhaps in Needles, CA]. There are parts of California that do fall prey to flooding, but they’re on the coast and if you want to avoid flooding, don’t live on the coast. I recently looked at the weather departments predicitions of a tsunami hitting San Francisco and as long as you live above 46th avenue in the Sunset above La Playa in the Richmond you’ll be fine. That’s only two blocks that would be affected.

There was a recent study done on the San Andreas fault that showed that it would never be capable of delivering a quake much above a 7.6 at this point in time. So earthquakes aren’t really something you need to be too afraid of here in California. They’re just a little surprise wake up call to make sure you’re prepared.

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San Francisco Vs. The Tsunami

You’ll all have to thank my wife for this post. She had done a bit of research on how bad SF would fare if hit with a tsunami and I have to say that my off the cuff, unscientific assessment was off. I had it worse that it really would be.

She steered me toward the County Tsunami Inundation Maps website that shows just how bad we would be hit and I was kind of surprised. It’s the first time I am glad I’m on the front line of defense because the wave would hit us then make a left and head into the bay. Pretty much if you live in the Sunset or Richmond above 47th avenue you’ll be safe. The site’s a little hard to understand at first because it gives you a far away map and you have to click on it to download a large PDF image. I should have figured that since it was run by the government it wasn’t going to be easy. Maybe Apple should be hired as a consultant to make it more user friendly.

From what I can tell from the maps the worst places to be the Marina, the Wharfs, China Basin and Islais Creek. Oh let’s not leave out Treasure Island which would be underwater. I guess my earlier jokes about the tsunami evacuation signs being at the beach wasn’t that far off. Essentially they’re tell you to move a block away and you’ll be fine. I’ve also noticed that Oakland, Alameda and Emeryville will have a few problems as well even though they’re farther inland. Even those places won’t be hit by more than a few blocks.

It appears that as long as you are about a half mile in from the water you will be fine and have nothing to worry about. So everyone, stop being paranoid and get back to enjoying life. SF 1 – Tsunami 0.

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