All Hail! Storm Soaks Rainfall Records

Flash flood in Moraga, mudslide in Piedmont, hundreds of lightning strikes Thursday night.

Update 5:30 p.m. Friday, reports from nearby Patches

By Patch Staff

Storm after storm rolled through the Bay Area Thursday and Friday, including a squall early Friday afternoon that spit out some fine hail in Walnut Creek.

The storm Thursday night triggered more than 700 lightning strikes around the Bay Area, set records for rainfall and left thousands without power, officials said.

In Moraga, Canyon Road was closed and some cars were caught in four feet of water in a flash flood. This is the back way some motorists take between Moraga and the Oakland hills when they're trying to avoid sclerosis in the Caldecott Tunnel.

In Piedmont, a major road — Moraga Avenue — was closed with a hillside sliding and power poles knocked down, affecting local homes.

On Thursday night, the National Weather Service recorded 750 lightning strikes overnight in the area extending from the North Bay to Monterey County, an unusually high number for one storm, according to meteorologist Chris Stumpf. That total includes strikes that occurred off the coast. On Thursday night, there were widespread power outages in Concord.

Several areas saw new records set for rainfall on Thursday, breaking previous records for this date set in 2003, Stumpf said.

On Thursday night, United Airlines Flight 930, bound from San Francisco International to London's Heathrow Airport, left at 7:35 p.m. and was struck by lightning while flying over the ocean. No passengers were injured in the lightning strike, said SFO duty manager Nancie Parker.

The plane returned to San Francisco at 10 p.m. and the passengers were rerouted to a Friday flight. A day of heavy rain and lightning resulted in 60 flight cancellations in and out of San Francisco International Airport on Thursday.

Downtown San Francisco received 1.24 inches of rain on Thursday, breaking the previous record for April 12 of 0.92 inches. Downtown Oakland got 1.26 inches, well above the previous record of 0.59 inches. Oakland International Airport got 1.2 inches, shattering the previous record of 0.77 inches.

The storm helped increase rainfall for what has generally been a dry year, but totals still remain well below average for this time of year, Stumpf said.

"I know a lot of places are sitting around 60 percent of normal for this time of year, but we're still nowhere near where we were last year," Stumpf said. "Last year we were either at or above 100 percent for many places."

Sunny skies are forecast for most of the weekend.

Bay City News Service contributed heartily to this report.


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