Storm FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked weather questions and other resources below.

Am I at Risk of Flooding?

Am I at risk of flooding?  

The primary source of flooding risk in Palo Alto is the San Francisquito Creek.  Other creeks and waterways in Palo Alto have not shown a significant risk of flooding since previous flood control projects have been completed.  Maps of areas known to be at risk of flooding are shown at (click “Palo Alto Floodmaps”).  

There are different flood maps. How do I know which one applies?   

The maps show flood risk areas at varying levels of storm intensity: 25, 50, and 100-year likelihood of occurrence, as well as the 1998 flooding event.  Use these maps to evaluate risks at locations of interest given anticipated storm forecasts. Please note that improvements to San Francisquito Creek since 1998 have significantly reduced flooding risks in the vicinity of Highway 101 and downstream, and enabled Palo Alto’s stormwater drainage system to reduce impacts once flooding occurs. 

Where can I find reliable flood forecasts?  

View San Francisquito Creek levels and find additional resources here; the “Other Resources” button provides links to several sources of weather and creek flow forecasts, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The current San Francisquito Creek capacity before flooding occurs is about 5,500 cubic feet per second (cfs).  

Will the City warn me if my property is at risk of flooding?  

The City will provide real-time situational updates to the entire community.  There are four stages for an inclement weather event where flooding may be possible: Monitoring, Flood Watch, Flood Warning, and Evacuation.  Here is a summary of each stage. 

Monitoring: Flood risk is low, but staff are actively monitoring creek levels.  

Flood Watch: Flood risk is moderate to high. Be aware that water levels are increasing. Be aware of road hazards such as water in our local streets.  

Flood Warning: Flooding is likely or occurring. We will share the estimated time of flooding, if available, and other safety hazards. Prepare to evacuate.  

Evacuation: If your home is located in the evacuation list shared by the City of Palo Alto, it is recommended that you consider evacuating now in advance of potential flooding.  Evacuation will be recommended for areas where public safety is at risk, including where streets may be impassable due to flood waters, potentially limiting residents’ ability to exit the area and delaying emergency response. 

All four stages will be shared on social media (social media channels the City uses can be found at and the City’s website at, while the last two stages will also be shared via the City’s emergency notification system, AlertSCC. Sign up for AlertSCC at 

When will the City issue an evacuation notification? 

If City staff observe a measured creek flow indicating that flooding is likely, the City will send a message warning of the potential for flooding. The message will include specific blocks of specific streets that should consider evacuating in advance of potential flooding. 

If City staff observe a measured creek flow indicating that flooding is imminent or already occurring, the City will send another message informing of current conditions and the specific blocks of specific streets that should consider immediate evacuation. Staff hope to send this message 30-45 mins before the flooding is expected to begin. 

Why should you consider evacuating if the City recommends it? 

Locations listed in the evacuation alert are areas that may experience risk to public safety. This includes where streets may be impassable due to flood waters, potentially limiting residents’ ability to exit the area and delaying emergency response. 

How does the San Francisquito Creek flood? 

When water levels exceed the capacity of the creek channel, water flows over the creek banks. Overtopping can occur in any area of the creek where the water level exceeds the capacity of the channel. In past Palo Alto flooding events, though, water has tended to flow out of the creek at Seneca and Hale Streets and also at the Chaucer Street Bridge.   

Is flooding risk affected by the high tide?   

Not generally, because of significant improvements made in recent years to San Francisquito Creek that have increased creek capacity between Highway 101 and San Francisco Bay.  Those improvements, which were made since the last widespread flood in 1998, were designed to accommodate a very large creek flow coupled with a high tide. 

How to Stay Informed

Where can I find the latest flood and storm updates online?


Where can I view the power outage map?


How do I sign up for AlertSCC?


How can I stay informed on all City updates?

Get real-time notifications from the City via Twitter, Facebook, Nextdoor, and the Police Department's Nixle feed. Receive emergency alerts via SCC Alert. Click here to connect. Track creek water levels at

Where can I learn more about Storm and Flood Preparedness?


Where can I find more information about emergency preparedness for other types of emergencies?

Visit the City's Office of Emergency Services dedicated webpage at

What Help is Available From the City?

Can the City help pump water out of my home, basement, or garage?

Due to resource limitations, the City is unable to assist with pumping water out of homes or basements. Please contact your home insurance company to determine what assistance they may be able to provide or recommend.

Where do I go for safe refuge during this time? I have no heat or power. 

  • Impacted residents are eligible for discounted hotels in the area and may be eligible for reimbursement for up to three nights.
  • During future severe storm events, the City may choose to re-open its Community Resource Center at the Rinconada Library. This webpage, as well as other official City communications during future severe storm events, will include information about the Community Resource Center if it is re-opened.

What can I do with my car (my street/basement is flooded)?

Residents in flood prone areas are welcome to move cars to a safer location. Options to park include surface lots in Downtown. Residential preferential parking (RPP) programs and timed parking (surface-level parking, Civic Center parking) regulations are temporarily suspended during the storm.

Where can I get sandbags?

The City recommends bringing your own shovel. Sandbag supplies will be replenished on Thursday. Please do not overfill the sandbags – they only need to be filled about 1/3 of the way with sand. Locations include:

  • Rinconada Tennis Courts (at the corner of Newell Road and Hopkins Ave)
  • Mitchell Park (600 East Meadow Drive)
  • Palo Alto Airport Terminal (1925 Embarcadero Road)
  • Palo Alto Avenue and Chaucer Street

I am worried about one of our unhoused neighbors being out during this storm. What can the City do?

The City opened a Community Resource Center at Rinconada Library’s Embarcadero Room beginning at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 4 for those needing a warm, sheltered place. There is space available at the Community Resource Center for our unhoused neighbors to come to be warm and dry for the evening and will be open through night to Thursday evening.

What preparations is the City making for the storms?

A multi-departmental City response is underway to prepare for the upcoming storm. Crews will be staging equipment near where it will be needed most to facilitate a quick response once the storm hits. The City is also in contact with other relevant agencies that are preparing and responding to the upcoming storm.

My street has significant mud and is slick, how do I request street sweeping/cleaning?

Multiple teams of staff and contractors are making their way through impacted streets, removing mud and debris and will continue through the storm.

I have significant debris in my yard or dwelling that are quite large, can someone come out to help?

Unfortunately, the City is unable to assist with major debris on private residences at this time. A multi departmental team is working on critical clean-up and staging in preparation for the storm in public areas.

Is there a centralized lost and found?

Unfortunately, the City does not have a centralized lost and found at this time. Nextdoor can be used for community coordination of lost and found items.

Report Storm Impacts

There are downed trees. Who do I report this to?

For blocked storm drains, sink holes, landslides, levee damage, and fallen trees, call Palo Alto Public Works at (650) 496-6974 on weekdays from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. and (650) 329-2413 after hours.

How do I report gas leaks?

For gas leaks and sewer spills, call Palo Alto Utilities Water, Gas, Wastewater Operations at (650) 329-2579.

What happens if we are having a power outage or electrical issues?

 For power outages and electrical problems, call Palo Alto Utilities Electric Operations at (650) 496-6914.

I have damage from the storm in my home. What do I do?

For residents whose homes sustained storm-related damage from the January 4 storm, or flood damage from the December 31 storm, please fill out this online form at, and City building officials will follow-up.

How do I know if storm damage in my home qualifies for a hotel accommodation?

  • All residents are eligible for discounted hotel rooms, and some may be eligible for reimbursement of up to three nights.
  • Fill out the form at and City staff will follow-up regarding eligibility for reimbursement.

Newell Road/San Francisquito Creek Bridge Replacement Project

What is the Newell Road/San Francisquito Creek Bridge Replacement Project?

The City of Palo Alto, in partnership with the City of East Palo Alto, Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water) and the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (SFCJPA), evaluated options for the replacement of the Newell Road Bridge over San Francisquito Creek in 2011. Constructed in 1911, Newell Road Bridge is a 76-foot long, reinforced concrete girder structure spanning 22 feet in width and measuring 18 feet curb to curb.

What is the current status of the project?

In 2019, Caltrans approved a grant of $6.8M for construction in FY 2026 based on a $9M estimate (with $2M to come from the City).  Our latest construction cost estimate is $15M. Staff is working on finalizing the new estimate to request an additional $6M and accelerate funding to align with an earlier construction start. Staff is also working to secure additional regulatory permits and right-of-way acquisitions (for temporary construction easements) with Caltrans needed during construction. Bidding for the project is expected to begin in late 2023 with construction beginning in early 2024. Learn more at

What other Capital Improvement Projects have been completed to reduce the risk of flood-related impacts?

Several new pump stations have been completed which allows water to be pumped back into creeks. This includes the San Francisquito Creek pump station that was completed in 2009 and the Matadero Creek pump station that was completed in 2019. Channing and Lincoln Avenue also received storm drain upgrades from 2012-2018, fiber optics systems received upgrades in 2018, and the Guinda flap gate improves efficiency of the system as of 2015.