Rare September rainstorm batters the Bay Area after grueling heat and drought

Rain lashed the Bay Area on Sunday, moving south from the northern valleys, increasing road incidents in San Francisco and raising fears of blackouts or falling trees.

For residents recovering from a record heat wave, a season typically marked by fierce wildfires and prolonged droughts, the rain was accompanied by a fair share of panic.

In downtown San Francisco, showers began to burst, woke up around 9:45 a.m. and sprayed enough, within minutes, to rattle the tin chimney caps of apartment buildings. By 10 o’clock in the morning, the rain had washed away the leaves of the drains and was threatening to block them and create lakes at the intersections.

A storm that generated weeks of tantalizing forecasts has finally arrived.

Then, by 10:15 a.m., it ended, another example of extreme fluctuations in California’s weather, where atmospheric rivers follow prolonged dry periods. At 11 in the morning the wind started groaning and then it started raining. Organizers canceled the annual Leatherwalk in SOMA, the Stern Grove Festival and Sunday Streets in Western Edition.

Bad weather delayed the Flower Piano, a popular performance festival in Golden Gate Park, by an hour, although it went ahead at 11am with tents covering all twelve pianos.

Brendan Lange, spokesman for Flower Piano, said: “If it had been a sunny day, the crowd would have been less, but there is an unprecedentedly dedicated heartfelt group of pianists and listeners, dressed in their finest rain jackets, rain boots and umbrellas.”

Light rain that moistened the pavement in the East Bay at around 8 a.m. turned heavy in the afternoon, when the rain fell in a sheet. By then the storm had engulfed much of the North Bay, where forecasters estimated up to 3.5 inches of rain could fall into the mountains.

Strong winds blowing south along the coast prompted the National Weather Service to issue an advisory for Sunday and warn of a possible outage.

“We are certainly treating this as a welcome rain event that will bring moisture to some of our dry fuel,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Brooke Bingman. Although the storm’s behavior may seem uncertain, Bingman and other meteorologists expect it to produce unseasonably high levels of precipitation.

Southerly winds gather in the Bay Area on Saturday night, with rain forecast for all areas from Sunday night through early Monday.

National Weather Service Bay Area

In downtown San Francisco, residents should estimate about an inch, nearly four times the city average in September, Bingman said.

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