Rain Headed to S.F. Means Better Air, Worse Thanksgiving Traffic

The rain arriving early Wednesday morning is both a blessing and a curse for the Camp Fire.

At last, wind and rain are coming to clean the polluted Bay Area air but on Wednesday, one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Prepare yourselves for early Wednesday morning, when rain is expected to begin near the coast before spreading east and south. San Francisco will see about half an inch of rain, says National Weather Service meteorologist Duane Dykema.

The expected wind and rain will help immensely in clearing out the poor air quality lingering in the Bay Area the past couple weeks, keeping people indoors or scrounging for N95 masks. On the significantly smaller downside, that also means worse traffic as rain hits not only after a long period without rain, but on a day when most people hit the road for Thanksgiving.

“That’s definitely a concern,” Dykema says of the surging number of vehicles on roadways Wednesday. “[Rain] causes slippery conditions because of all the oil and crud that builds up on the roads.”

Dusty winds that could reach up to 40 miles per hour could serve as another obstacle for drivers battling bumper-to-bumper traffic, wet roads, and strong wind. (Google’s interactive holiday travel guide suggests avoiding peak San Francisco traffic at 4 p.m. Wednesday.)

After settling down on Wednesday, more rain will largely hit the North Bay on Friday but garner another half an inch of rain in San Francisco. This is great news for containing the deadly Camp Fire in Paradise, but bad news for finding and identifying victims. At least 77 are dead and hundreds are missing as of Monday.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said that it’s possible some of the missing may never be found or identified. Responders and volunteers are racing the rain to find as many as possible.

“As much as I wish that we could get through all of this before the rains come, I don’t know if that’s possible,” Honea told KPIX.

As Paradise continues the long road to recover, those in the Bay Area counting their lucky stars that they still have a home may be able to stop obsessively refreshing AirNow on Wednesday.

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