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City Preparations for a Projected Wet Winter

A street sweeper collecting leaves before the leaves clog up storm drains. (City of Alameda)

A street sweeper collecting leaves before the leaves clog up storm drains. (City of Alameda)

Earlier this month, the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service published an estimate that there is a 95% chance that the Northern Hemisphere will experience an El Niño effect this winter, weakening in the spring. The City of Alameda followed-up this week advising residents on preparations.

Predictions of a wet El Niño winter have been widely welcomed in drought-stricken California, where residents have seen water districts introduce penalties for excessive water consumption.

The City of Alameda cautioned that, “while it is not expected to end California’s historic drought, storms from the weather system could cause flooding and interfere with the normal operation of Alameda’s streets, stormwater system, and local private property.”

City of Alameda Public Works Department

  • The department follows a preventative maintenance schedule for thousands of storm drain inlets and catch basins in Alameda, along with ten storm drain pump stations. Public Works checks the inlet and catch basins and removes litter and debris that might interfere with the proper drainage of stormwater.
  • During the two months before the storm season, Public Works’ crews clear storm drain outfalls on large busy streets such as Park Street and Shore Line Drive, clear gutter areas that have flooding history, and update traffic signals’ back-up batteries.
  • Public Works also rechecks its equipment before the storm season, and coordinates with the City’s tree maintenance contractor to ensure its crews are available during and after hours to deal with fallen trees and tree limbs.
  • Maintenance workers also prepare by lowering lagoons to accept more stormwater and ensure the City has enough flooding signs, barricades, and temporary stop signs to use during storms.
  • Two days before a severe storm is forecast to arrive, Public Works street sweepers alter their typical schedule to pick up leaves and debris in high-priority areas. Alameda Police are notified of areas to suspend enforcement of street sweeping-related parking restrictions.

Alameda Residents

During or after a storm, residents are asked to call the City of Alameda at 510-747-7900 (or 510-337-8340 after 6 p.m.) to report fallen or weakened trees, piles of leaves or other debris in the street, non-working traffic signals and flooding into the traffic lane.

Residents can also help by:

  • Hiring an arborist to inspect trees on private property that appear weakened, diseased, dying, and may be susceptible to damage in a storm.
  • Repairing their roofs and clearing their gutters.
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance or contents insurance for renters. Policies typically require a 30-day waiting period before a claimable event.
  • Having an emergency plan for your family and a dry place for home supplies. Check http://www.bepreparedcalifornia.ca.gov for more information.
  • Parking vehicles and putting waste containers one foot away from the curb so stormwater can flow unobstructed.

City officials plan to provide an update in early November.

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