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Powerful Storms Heading Our Way — Is Your Home Ready?

It's a good time to check your gutters and prepare for possible power outages. The season's biggest storm system so far is expected to hit the Bay Area with high winds and up to 8 inches of rain in the North Bay.

A series of powerful rainstorms is expected to hit the Bay Area beginning Wednesday morning, dumping up to 8 inches of rain on parts of the region, a National Weather Service forecaster said.

The storms are predicted to start at about the time of the morning commute Wednesday and continue through the weekend, bringing winds of 40 to 50 mph and 1 to 3 inches of rain to most parts of the Bay Area, forecaster Steve Anderson said.

"This is certainly the biggest storm of the season so far," Anderson said. "Typically, we get our big rain events in December and January."

The rainfall will be most intense here in the North Bay, where 2 to 3 inches of rain is expected in low lands and as many at 8 inches in the hills, Anderson said.         

"It's mostly going to be a North Bay event, the heaviest rainfall," Anderson said.

Smaller creeks in the North Bay are likely to fill to bank level, he said.

Ursula Hanks, Marin County's emergency services coordinator, said Tuesday that first responders — from law enforcement, fire, emergency medical and public works agencies — are monitoring the conditions and  ready to respond. Marin County’s Emergency Operations Center will be activated if conditions warrant, she said.

Streets throughout the Bay Area will be soaked, and fallen leaves from trees are expected to clog storm drains, so some roads and intersections will see some flooding and the usual traffic delays, Anderson said.

Checking storm drains and gutters now, before the skies open up, is the best move. Also, the city of Novato recommends purchasing a few sandbags from Marin Landscape Materials to prevent flooding at your home. Sandbags with 2-3 shovels full of sand run about $2.

The city keeps a limited amount of sand and bags at the city's corporation yard at 550 Davidson St., but that stash if for emergency use only. Here is a page on the city's website about how to help prevent flooding in your yard or neighborhood.

Bay Area residents should also get ready for possible downed trees and power outages. "If you have an alarm clock that's electric, make sure you have a backup," Anderson said.

Fifteen- to 18-foot waves are expected along the coast during the stormy weather, he said.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE A STORM

  • Clear the drains around your home; including roof gutters, drain inlets, downspouts, pipes and drainage ditches
  • Get furnaces and chimneys inspected once a year and cleaned or repaired if needed
  • Rake up and bag leaves often and especially before storms. Leaves can clog the storm drains and cause water to back up which can cause local flooding
  • Keep emergency supplies at work, at home and in your car, including:
  • First aid kit and essential medications
  • Cash (ATMs might not be working)
  • Drinking water for at least 3 days per person
  • Keep your car fueled
  • Sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber and other emergency building materials handy
  • Portable radio, flashlights and extra batteries
  •  Non perishable food: Ready to eat; canned meats, fruits and vegetables, canned juices, staples (salt, pepper, etc.), high-energy foods, any special food for family members (i.e. baby formula), comfort foods
  • Emergency pet supplies such as food, medications, a leash

WHAT TO DO DURING THE STORM

  • Avoid areas that are subject to sudden flooding
  • Do not try to cross a flowing stream where water is above your knees
  • Do not try to drive over flooded road – if your car stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground
  • Avoid unnecessary trips in your car
  • Tune to local radio or television stations for emergency information
  • Call 9-1-1 for emergencies only

— Bay City News Service contributed to this report. 

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