Flood Information/Winter Storms

Palo Alto Storm Watch Resource Page: Prepare for Storm Events, Monitor Storm & Creek Activity, and Report Storm Problems

Storm Update as of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 11, 2017:

The storm system that hit Tuesday night brought some tense moments with periods of heavy rain, high winds and a Flash Flood Advisory issued along the San Francisquito Creek (SFC) near West Bayshore Road/Highway 101.

Caltrans was on the scene last night to clear more storm debris that collected along the trash rack grate at West Bayshore Road. The grate is designed to prevent debris from clogging under the highway. West Bayshore Road remains closed due to the debris still being staged on the bridge and the road is not expected to reopen until about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Urban Forestry responded to eight calls involving downed trees and limbs. There were no injuries but a tree fell on a car on Addison Avenue and storm drain crews responded to three calls of pipeline blockage due to heavy rainfall.

Palo Alto street division crews are also working to clear minor landslides on Arastadero Road above Page Mill Road this morning. The road remains open during the work but expect delays as two-way traffic controls are set-up within the work zone.

Part of Los Trancos Trail, between Trappers Fire Road and Pony Tracks Fire Road in Foothills Park remains closed due to a mudslide that occurred during the rain on Friday, Jan. 6. Click here for more updates on the trail.

Track the latest computer models on the SFC here.

You can also monitor Palo Alto's creek levels here.


Storm Update as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, January 10, 2017:

The SFC Joint Powers Authority has issued a Flood Watch Advisory for San Francisquito Creek. The heavy rain that hit our area tonight began to taper off starting at about 9 p.m. but brought enough rainfall that by midnight the SFC is expected to reach 60 percent capacity at West Bayshore Road/Highway 101. The SFC creek monitor levels are slowing the rate of rise, but the peak of high tide is about to occur just before midnight. The City has crews closely monitoring the situation and you are advised to stay on alert if you are in the area.

National Weather Service Update as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017:

The City’s Public Works crews are continuing to closely monitor San Francisquito Creek as we have had off and on rain on Tuesday, January 10 and the California Nevada River Forecast Center (CNRFC ) is forecasting 0.9 inch of rain this evening with a resulting flowrate of about 2,400 cfs at 11 p.m. That combined with this evening’s high tide,  which will peak just before midnight at 7.07 feet could cause flooding problems. CNRFC will provide another update on conditions at 9 p.m. and we will post an update shortly thereafter.

Storm Updates for January 7-8, 2017:

The weekend storm system that began overnight Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 is expected to be the biggest storm to hit the Bay Area so far this season, with the most storm activity expected to arrive early Sunday morning through Sunday afternoon. The City of Palo Alto has staff on-call all weekend to monitor the situation and assist with any storm related incidents should they arrive. The City also will be getting continuous updates from the Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Services (OES) and the National Weather Service (NWS), and those updates will be posted here, on our homepage, and on our social media channels.

Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Services (OES) Update as of 12:30 p.m. Sunday, January 8, 2017:

The National Weather Service (NWS) says the next 12 hours are expected to bring 2 to 3 inches of rain to the region, with the most intensity between now and 3 p.m.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District reports that the San Francisquito Creek (SFC) is expected to stay well within its banks. The City Public Works staff will continue to monitor SFC closely. You can track the CNRFC latest computer models on the SFC here.

You can also monitor Palo Alto's creek levels here.

View the local Palo Alto forecast from the National Weather Service here.

National Weather Service Update as of 9 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017:

The National Weather Service (NWS) reports there is still a long, steady stream of moisture headed our way on Sunday, but the Palo Alto Foothills did not get that much rain. There will possibly be periods of heavy rain through this afternoon, tapering off this evening.

The CNRFC (Calif. Nevada River Forecast Center) forecast for San Francisquito Creek (SFC) goes to 9.4 feet, which is just below flood stage of 9.5 feet. You can track the CNRFC latest computer models on the SFC here. The City has Public Works staff on hand closely monitoring the situation.

The Flash Flood Warning for our area has been cancelled but a Flash Flood Watch is still in effect through Sunday evening.

Winds will continue to be a problem with advisories expiring around 3 p.m.

You can monitor the National Weather Service forecast for the San Francisco Bay Area here.

View the local Palo Alto forecast from the National Weather Service here.

National Weather Service Update as of 4 p.m. Saturday. Jan. 7, 2017:

The National Weather Service says the most intense rainfall (possibly exceeding 1"/hr) is expected to arrive between 4 a.m.-12 p.m. Sunday, with the high tide at San Francisquito Creek(SFC) at 8:45 a.m. Sunday. The Santa Cruz Mountains could see as much as 12 inches of rain in this storm system, while the rest of the Bay Area is expected to see 3 to 5 inches of rain.

SFC streamflow predictions for the storm system are not consistent however. According to Santa Clara Valley Water District hydrologist assessments, SFC is not expected to exceed 50 percent capacity at any point during the storm series this weekend. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted a flowrate of about 3300 cfs at 4 p.m. Sunday. 3300 cfs is about 70% of SFC's capacity at Highway 101 and about 60% of the capacity at the Pope/Chaucer bridge. Rainfall and creek flowrates will be continuously monitored.

Most of the moisture is expected to be south of Palo Alto, but the NWS noted that "atmospheric river paths are impossible to accurately predict".

Wind is likely to cause the most problems throughout the region, and could lead to power outages and falling trees.

Get Prepared

Besides having on-call staff monitoring the storm round the clock this weekend, the City has sandbag stations at four locations for the public to pick up if they live in an area that is prone to flooding. The locations are:

  • Rinconada Park
  • Mitchell Park
  • Chaucer Street at Palo Alto Avenue
  • Palo Alto Airport

The City has stocked a total of 5,000 filled sandbags between all these locations. Once those run out, only loose sand and empty bags will be on hand. Residents should come prepared with a shovel in case the filled bags are depleted.

Subscribe today or visit the webpage to receive the latest activity and information on the San Francisquito Creek.


1 - Public Information
2 - How to Prepare
3 - What to do When Flooding is Imminent
4 - Flood Resources (including contact phone numbers)

Public Information:

Check the National Weather Service, Palo Alto Forecast Page for weather updates throughout the winter.

If you live in an area that is susceptible to winter storm flooding, you can get filled sandbags at the Palo Alto Airport located adjacent to the Terminal Building. Additionally, sand and empty bags are available at Mitchell Park adjacent to the Little League Field and Rinconada Park Tennis Court parking lot.

City staff continues to prepare for winter storms including the use of the Santa Clara County's Emergency Alert System (AlertSCC).

You can monitor creek levels at multiple locations throughout the City on the internet by accessing Creek Monitor on the City’s website. For real-time information about potential flooding on San Francisquito Creek, please visit the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority’s (JPA) new Early Flood Warning System web site. Stay tuned to local radio and TV stations (particularly KCBS 740 AM/106.9 FM or KZSU 90.1 FM) for the latest weather information.

Public Information Hotline 650-329-2420 (recorded message)

Real-time critical public safety updates can be obtained via the Palo Alto Police Department’s social media accounts on:

For information on all of the PAPD social media accounts, visit www.cityofpaloalto.org/PAPDconnect.

During a time of emergency the City's primary duty is to ensure public safety. In the case of a flood, City resources are directed toward evacuating residents as necessary, responding to police, fire, and medical emergencies, maintaining utility services, providing traffic control, pumping flooded streets and providing sandbags available for pick up at designated locations.

  • Visit the Creek Monitor Page
    Real-time creek monitoring and the live CreekCam
  • www.cityofpaloalto.org/StormMap Palo Alto Real-time Google Storm Map (Note: This Map is NO LONGER LIVE. Only static data like sandbag stations is being displayed. The map Will become live again if the Emergency Operations Center comes back online.)
  • Visit the San Francisquito Creek JPA Early Flood Warning System web site
    Real-time information on potential San Francisquito Creek flooding
  • Subscribe today or visit the webpage to receive the latest activity and information on the San Francisquito Creek
  • For more information call:
    Palo Alto Office of Emergency Services
    phone: 650-617-3197
    hours: Mon-Fri 8am-5pm
  • Palo Alto Community Alerts
    Radio stations:KCBS 740 AM/106.9 FM
    KZSU 90.1 FM
    Palo Alto Online
  • Fire/Police 329-2413 (non-emergencies)
    911 or (650) 329-2413 from a cell phone (emergencies only)
  • City public information hotline (recorded message)

Back To Top

Resource List:

Online Weather / Emergency Information

Flood Maps (historic and predicted)

Additional Resources
Report blocked storm drains and/or slides:
Palo Alto Public Works
(650) 496-6974 (weekdays 7 a.m.-5p.m.)
(650) 329-2413 (after hours)

Report fallen trees:
Palo Alto Public Works
(650) 496-5953 (weekdays 7 a.m.-5 p.m.)
(650) 329-2413 (after hours)

Report gas leaks, sewer spills:
Palo Alto Communications  (650) 329-2579

Report power outages & electrical problems:
Palo Alto Electric Operations (650) 496-6914

Road conditions:
Palo Alto (650) 329-2420 (during flood emergency only)
Caltrans (800)427-7623

Caltrans Road Conditions Map

After-Flood Safety:
Gas and electric appliance safety
Cleaning up after a flood

Back To Top

What You Can Do To Prepare

The experts differ on what the winter weather will bring, but they agree on one thing: it pays to be prepared. The City of Palo Alto suggests a few things you can do to be ready for the very real possibility of flooding in our area.

Be prepared by following these tips:

How to Prepare

  • Know if your property is in a floodzone
  • Regular homeowner's insurance policies don't cover flood damage. Call your insurance agent to purchase flood insurance to protect your home and contents. More info at www.Floodsmart.gov
  • Replace the batteries in your flashlights and portable radio and store these emergency supplies in water-tight plastic bags.
  • Have a supply plastic sheeting, plywood, and tools ready for waterproofing of doors and openings.
  • Pick up sandbags at these locations: Palo Alto Airport, Mitchell Park, Rinconada Park& Chaucer St./Palo Alto Ave. 
  • Watch Channel 28 or 30 for a video on sandbagging techniques.
  • Post emergency numbers near the telephone.
  • Discuss emergency plans with your family. This link takes you to the Red Cross' Flood Preparedness tips.
  • Do not dump on storm drains and keep creeks clean. It is illegal to dump things into a creek or storm drain. Drains in your street flow directly to local creeks. Creeks are a valuable natural resource and habitat for local endangered species.
    • Pollution Hotline – 650-329-2943 Or 1-888-510-5151

Flood Preparedness Resources:

Back To Top


If Flooding is Present or Imminent

  • Stay informed about weather conditions. Use the radio (tuned to KCBS 740 AM/106.9 FM or KZSU 90.1 FM) as your primary source of information and instruction. (See other resources below.)
  • Make sure your family and pets are safe. Then, if time permits, move valuable household possessions from off the floor.
  • Do not try to drive across a flooded road -- you could become stranded or trapped.
  • Report downed power lines, leaking gas lines, or blocked storm drains to the City immediately (see numbers below).
  • Be ready to evacuate if directed by emergency personnel.
    • The city will make notifications using AlertSCC, Radio (90.1 FM) and Social Media
      • Information will include evacuations, routes and shelter locations

Back To Top

Last Updated: Jan 11, 2017