This page includes resources, contact information and tips to:
Prepare for Storm Events
Monitor Storm & Creek Activity
Report Storm Problems
Rain Forecast for Friday, Jan 20- Monday, Jan. 23, 2017
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for the entire San Francisco Bay Area from late Saturday night through Sunday 6 p.m. and a High Wind Watch from Saturday 8 p.m. through Sunday at 10 a.m.
Periods of moderate to heavy rain Saturday night through Sunday morning on our already saturated soils could lead to flash flooding of streams and rivers, and in local urban areas. Winds could exceed 40-50 mph and will be strongest near the coast and in higher elevations. The storm system that has been heavy at times since Wednesday, and brought lightning and thunderstorms, is expected to continue through Monday. Friday’s forecast calls for showers and possible thunderstorms that could produce heavy rainfall. Winds could gust as high as 24 mph and we could see between a tenth and a quarter inch of rain.
All in all, Palo Alto could get a total of about two inches of rain by Sunday. So far this month, Palo Alto has received 4.64 inches of rain. The average historically has been 2.97 inches of rain in January.
San Francisquito Creek Update as of Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) River Forecast Center is currently predicting 0.8 inches of rain in the San Francisquito Creek watershed on Saturday night through Sunday morning. A peak flowrate of 1,430 cfs is estimated to occur on Sunday at 11 am. The predicted flowrate is far below the creek capacity. On Saturday, a moderate high tide of 5.9 feet is predicted at about 8 p.m. A higher tide of 8.3 feet is predicted at about 8 a.m. on Sunday.
The City will continue to have crews closely monitoring the San Francisquito Creek levels throughout the storms, and the creek monitor sensors are fully functioning again after experiencing a technical problem with the communication system that reports the field data.
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, visit the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority’s (JPA) new Early Flood Warning System website where you can sign up for alerts. Be Prepared
Besides having staff monitoring the storm, the City has sandbag stations at the following locations:
Chaucer Street at Palo Alto Avenue
Palo Alto Airport
Please note, all the pre-filled bags are gone and you must bring your shovel to fill the sandbags.
To report blocked storm drains, slides and fallen trees, call the Public Works after hours line at: (650) 329-2413.
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.
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 website. 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:
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.
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.)
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.
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
Details on storm system that arrived Wednesday, Jan 18- Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017
The National Weather Service is forecasting more rain in our area this week starting Wednesday, Jan. 18 through the weekend.
The rain, which could be heavy at times on Wednesday, could include a thunderstorm between 4 p.m.- 10 p.m., and add anywhere from a tenth to a quarter of an inch of rain.
Besides rain, the National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory over the Bay Area in effect from 1 pm. Wednesday to 1 a.m. Thursday. A wind advisory means that winds of 35 mph are expected and winds this strong can make driving difficult. The wind can also contribute to downed trees, limbs and power outages.
San Francisquito Creek Update as of Wed, Jan.18, 2017
The City has crews closely monitoring the San Francisquito Creek levels and you are advised to stay on alert if you are in the area.
Wednesday’s storm is expected to be much less intense than last week’s events. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) River Forecast Center is currently predicting 0.9 inches of rain in the San Francisquito Creek watershed this evening, with a peak flowrate of about 850 cfs at 1 am. A moderate high tide of 6.8 feet is predicted at about 5 pm.
There is currently a technical problem with the communication system that reports the field data from the Creek Monitor sensors. The data on the Creek Monitor page may show that there is no runoff at West Bayshore Road and Waverley Street. Public Works is aware of this issue and working to correct the problem as quickly as possible. They are also monitoring the field conditions and will address any real-time concerns, such as debris, as needed.
Forecast for Thurs. Jan. 19-Sun. Jan. 22, 2017
Thursday is expected to bring a slight chance of showers during the day, with a chance of rain after 4 p.m., and Friday is expected to be mostly rainy all day. This could bring up to a half inch of rain between Thursday and Friday.
Saturday and Sunday could see even heavier rain. All in all, Palo Alto could get a total of about two inches of rain by Sunday. So far this month, Palo Alto has received 4.64 inches of rain. The average historically has been 2.97 inches of rain in January.
Details on storm system that hit our area Sat. Jan. 7-Wed. Jan. 11, 2017
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.
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.