First Big Rain of the Season Hits Thursday

Weather experts are unsure if this winter will be a repeat of last year's rainpocalypse, but city officials are preparing regardless.

(Photo: Aleah Fajardo)

Stock the fridge, pull out the space heaters and queue up Stranger Things — it’s going to be a rainy weekend.  It won’t be a torrential downpour, but the National Weather Service predicts “light to moderate rain” in San Francisco, starting Thursday night, and possibly extending through Sunday. 

In anticipation of the weekend’s rain, city officials announced Tuesday that $700 million has been earmarked to expand the city’s sewer infrastructure over the next 15 years. As we’ve previously reported, San Francisco has a combined sewer system, which means rainwater and that which goes down the toilet all end up in the same place. The city has more than 1,000 miles of sewer pipes, but the majority of them were built more than 75 years ago — and it’s been a race against time and funding to replace them before the pipes break. Each year, our sewer pipes handle more than 438 billion gallons of waste and stormwater, no small feat for such a vintage piece of infrastructure.

Much of the new funds will be dedicated to providing support for areas of the city prone to flooding during the wet winter months — like Church and Market, the Embarcadero, and 17th and Folsom streets

But it’s not just up to the city to make sure our streets and sewers function during the rainy season: Residents can also make a difference. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Adopt a Drain movement has exploded in the past two years, as people opt-in to clean storm drains in their neighborhoods in advance of wet weather. Keeping the city’s 25,000 storm drains clean of trash, leaves and other debris is a full-time job in the winter — but now, 1,700 of those have been “adopted” by local residents. Aside from the warm fuzzy feeling of giving back a tiny bit, the Adopt a Drain program also enables people to officially name their drain. Monikers Blame it on the Drain, Make it Drain, You’re so Drain, Stormy McFloodsalot, Leavesdropping, and Yoda have all been taken.

The verdict is out on if this winter will bring the record-setting rains of last year, but the guidelines remain the same: Drive slowly and carefully when rain first hits the streets, as the roads are extra slippery during that first bit of condensation. Keep storm drains clear, and if you need sandbags, pick them up Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Public Works’ operations yard, Marin Street/Kansas Street gate. 

Also, sign up for Netflix. And Amazon. Maybe Hulu, too?

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