Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 12, 2014

Calm after the #hellastorm

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

I had actually wrote yesterday’s post a few days ago, and kept bumping it for other things, but it came in very hand on the morning of #hellastorm when I finally scheduled it to run.  By now, you’ve probably seen photos, or have seen in person, huge swaths of flooding on Alameda Point, which was interesting because according to the Weather Underground map at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday had only measured less than 1.5 inches of rain, compared to Mid Alameda which measured 2.79 inches of rain:

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 1.13.24 PM


But while the street flooding isn’t a direct cause of the poor waste water systems — no that’s the fault of the failing stormwater systems which will get its own post another day — what is sort of gross is that during wet weather conditions like yesterday, because the wastewater system is so terrible it allows for “infiltration and inflow into the downstream transmission system.”

But back to the storm, for some reason the folks at Alameda Landing decided to plant street trees the very day before #hellastorm was supposed to hit.  It wasn’t really the rain I was worried about, but the wind.  Turns out one of the street trees did not weather the storm all that well, but the others are still standing — I think, I haven’t checked since yesterday afternoon.

Was the storm “big” enough to warrant closing down schools and generally freaking everyone out?  I’m gonna go with “no.”  But, I can’t even begin to imagine the cluster of craziness that would have been school drop off and pick up yesterday since the storm landed right around school start time. We managed to still schlep out to kung fu on Park Street yesterday as did lots of other families who were probably happy to get the kids out of the house and doing something active since school was closed.



  1. I live on Alameda Point and walked around with a camera taking pictures. All of the OMG! shots I saw on Facebook were of the same intersection I walked down to photograph. It has harmlessly flooded before at high tide / big rain, and will likely do it again. The ankle-deep water was nearly with walking into to get a shot of a “whirlpool” where the water was draining out, just not fast enough in that low spot.

    Otherwise, it was all photo opportunity and nothing destructivel, dangerous or unexpected.

    I admit I might’ve added to the impression of heavy flooding by carefully cropping a shot of a stop sign leaned against the pole it fell off of, to make it look like the water was five feet high. But that was meant to be just harmless fun.

    I agree: Close the schools for a little wind and rain? Ridiculous! In my day, we had real weather! (Cue codgerly grousing and exaggeration here.)

    Comment by Jack Mingo — December 12, 2014 @ 7:21 am

  2. What a weak and useless group we and our society have become. This rain storm brings us rain and wind of what was considered normal for residents of the Bay Area over many of the last 50 years and longer.

    Our crazy incessant weather media blitzes have turned our youth and younger adults into absolute imbeciles. In past decades we always knew when it rained in the fall or winter here in the east bay we must be ready for downed trees, mud slides and flooding.

    Now we close our schools and frighten our populations to not venture out to experience the magic of a major storm.

    Yesterday in the morning It was a magnificent out in the city of Alameda experiencing the water wind and rain. Of course one needs to be properly prepped and dressed….and use care and good risk judgements in this process. But certainly much more exciting and life giving than watching all the weather casters mostly nonsensical talking head reports.

    Tides were not a problem here only + 5.25 feet. Yesterday. The King tides on 21, 22 December are only going to be +6.3 foot (not really high). It takes a king tide of +8 foot with strong southerly and large runoff from the delta and local streams to create interesting problems here in Alameda. Then it really gets interesting!

    Yesterday was a typical strong winter storm for Alameda and the west coast. Like many I have experienced in the last 50 years.

    Comment by Tom — December 12, 2014 @ 7:25 am

  3. It seems that the forecast was for a much worse storm than the one that actually arrived: if the worst version of the storm had hit us directly, your post today might have been very different. (I’d rather see “an abundance of caution” approach to storms than a more laissez-faire one any day….)

    I took AC Transit and BART into San Francisco yesterday, where I saw enough un-intelligent car driving to be very glad more people weren’t out driving around. Here is a sample of bad judgment around flooding yesterday in San Bruno:

    Comment by Jon Spangler — December 12, 2014 @ 7:39 am

  4. sorry Lauren but at 20:00 my rain gauge was at exact 4″ it is now at 09:38 at 4″1/4 ……I seriouseky doubt there was 2″difference between east and west on a stone throw away .
    on the positive side , it help the point clean up as most contaminant come to the surface

    Comment by joel rambaud — December 12, 2014 @ 9:42 am

  5. 5. yeah, I think the variations are suspect. .oo at Southshore??

    3. It’s bad enough to drown an engine, but if water gets in the sump and you try to restart the engine anyway, because the water does not compress in the piston chamber you can shatter things. A friend trying to ford a stream threw a rod right through his engine block. Land Rovers have air intake on the roof for a reason.

    4. Jack, wind 120 in Tahoe. That was probably a gust and at an extreme location like the top of an incline, obviously not sustained, but if we had 40 mph as predicted school cancellations would have seemed prudent. Don’t want the kiddies getting cut in half with flying stop signs. Remember Atlanta last year when they got caught unprepared in a snow storm?

    1.(Cue codgerly grousing and exaggeration here.)- bingo, you got it, 2.

    Comment by MI — December 12, 2014 @ 10:01 am

  6. Rainfall totals will vary from station to station depending on actual rainfall, location and accuracy of the measuring device. I’ve measured 2.86 inches total for this storm so far and I know that my gauge is not ideally located for maximum collection.

    Inflow and infiltration: nothing more than ground water entering the sewer collection system through cracks and unsealed joints. Nothing yucky about it. I/I just adds to the total volume carried by the pipeline. Too much I/I can lead to overflows that’s why it’s undesirable, Good news is that almost all the overflow is just water.

    Comment by Lavage10 — December 12, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

  7. 7. is that so about over flow? Rain water in sanitary sewers is a huge problem in many places and often results on releases of untreated sewage. This has been chronic over in Lark spur and surfers in Santa Cruz are periodically warned about bacteria levels after storms. SF sewer outfall has been extended a couple miles to lessen the impact, but their ancient sewer system has terrible problems processing storm runoff. The EBMUD sewer plant near bay bridge also gets overwhelmed and has no choice but to release minimally treated waste water. Doesn’t water leaked into the sewer at the Point end up at the East Bay plant? Another problem with leaks is soil erronsion around the leaks. After Loma Prieta quake our lateral in Oakland broke. After about a year the sidewalk collapsed.

    Comment by MI — December 12, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

  8. I’m talking about sewer collection
    systems (pipes in the ground), specifally Alameda Point where the collection system is under used. That means not much shit is flowing in the pipes.

    You’re talking about major spills from treatment plants. Big difference.

    Comment by Lavage10 — December 12, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

  9. great sun set. Even for six footer the tide was pretty darn high. by eyeball from the bike path, about two or three feet below the crown of Crown beach, the bay dead flat and still like a pond. the bay must be engorged from run off.

    Comment by MI — December 12, 2014 @ 5:25 pm

  10. No, I’m also talking storm run off getting in to sanitary sewer under the ground, through breaks under the ground, contributing to engorging sewer treatment plants, which in turn necessitates releases of untreated sewerage. Not different, interconnected.

    Comment by MI — December 12, 2014 @ 5:31 pm

  11. oh, o.K. SF sewers ARE different problem because the ancient system has incomplete separation and commingling.

    Comment by MI — December 12, 2014 @ 5:34 pm

  12. Read the engineering report. The Alameda Point collection system is running at minimal capacity, even with max wet weather I/I. The pump station that pumps the effluent under the estuary to EBMUD has about seven times the pump capacity as the collection system delivers to it at max flow.

    The EBMUD treatment plant has about 100 times the capacity. Alameda Point and all of Alameda are a drop in the bucket.

    Comment by Lavage10 — December 12, 2014 @ 6:21 pm

  13. 10

    It was indeed a great sunset, in fact the final hour before setting was most beautiful in quite some time.

    Comment by dave — December 12, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

  14. 13. thanks, I’m sure that probably even with abnormal intrusion of storm runoff through broken pipes that Alameda Point may not stress the EBMUD system, but I doubt the report deals with that scenario, and is most likely describing normal conditions. I am talking about EBMUD or other sewer treatment plants being overwhelmed by unintended intrusion of storm water which does occur from a number of sources in extreme conditions.

    Comment by MI — December 13, 2014 @ 9:30 am

  15. Should have seen the sunset at Rockwall, with the city and bridges in the foreground and a good Zin in hand, truly breathtaking.

    Comment by jack — December 13, 2014 @ 9:51 am

  16. Most of the flooding at Alameda Point illustrated the need for storm sewer upgrades. But at one site, it illustrated the need to recognize the obvious – that the Building 25 eyesore should be given up for wetland expansion that is connected to the Seaplane Lagoon, not protected by a levee. Photos from Thursday are on the Environmental Report here:

    Comment by Richard Bangert — December 13, 2014 @ 10:29 am

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