January 31, 2024
  • Redwood City – Heavy rain and high winds are forecast today for San Mateo County, prompting local officials to urge residents to stock an emergency kit and sign up for emergency alerts.

    The National Weather Service warns “heavy rain will runoff quickly,” causing flooding of creeks and streams and “numerous shallow landslides.”

    Three inches of rain or more is expected in the coastal hills with winds gusts as high as 50 mph. Rain is also expected to be heavy at times across the rest of the county, prompting a regionwide flood watch today through Friday morning.

    “With harsh weather in the forecast and likely more on the way, the time to prepare yourself and your family is now,” said Shruti Dhapodkar, director of the County’s Department of Emergency Management.

    “To make it simple, think about what you want or need as if you’re going to be staying home for a few days – with the potential of flooding and power outages,” Dhapodkar said.

    How to Prepare

    Make a communications plan: Write down and carry with you essential telephone numbers: family members, loved ones and neighbors, for instance. (If your smartphone’s battery dies, do you know the numbers off the top of your head?)

    Sign up for SMC Alert: SMC Alert is San Mateo County’s primary alert and warning system that can contact you by text, email or phone. Alerts may include life safety, fire, weather, accidents involving utilities or roadways, evacuation directions or disaster notifications.

    Where to find other key information: Some cities or agencies operate their own alert systems. Search “emergency alerts (with your city or area).”

    Current information on the storm, resources and preparedness are available at https://www.smcgov.org/dem

    Here’s the National Weather Service forecast office for the Bay Area. The site includes links to the agency’s social media accounts.

    Learn here how to visit County parks safely during and after heavy rains. Please note: Upper Coyote Point will be closed today, ., Jan. 31, and Thursday, Feb. 1, due to the extreme weather. Learn more here.

    Check or build your emergency kit: Keep flashlights, extra batteries and extra blankets handy, as well as a can opener, medicine, first aid supplies and a fire extinguisher. Also, stock up on nonperishable foods, such as dry cereal, nuts and protein bars. Try to stockpile at least one gallon of water per person a day for three days.

    Ready.gov abounds with information in multiple languages, with tips on creating low-cost kits.

    Make an evacuation plan: Know where you will go if you have to leave your home — family, friends and hotels are good options. Make arrangements ahead of time and have your go bag with extra clothing, medications and necessities ready.

    Steps you can take to prepare your home: Before the rain starts falling, clean out gutters and downspouts. Turn off automatic watering systems.

    If you live in a multi-family building, have a plan for how to evacuate and where to meet your loved ones. Learn your building’s layout and evacuation plan — most buildings post an evacuation plan in common areas that lead you to safety. Get to know multiple escape routes in case the closest one is blocked in an emergency.

    Prepare for power outages: If the power goes out, never heat your home with a camp stove, oven or charcoal-burning device. Ensure flashlights and battery-powered radios are accessible, along with a supply of fresh batteries. Charge mobile devices in advance and consider backup power solutions if possible. If you have a generator, remember to operate it outdoors and away from windows to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Here’s where to find the outage map for Pacific Gas & Electric and where to sign up for alerts.

    Where you can find sandbags: When filled and stacked correctly, sandbags can redirect a low flow of coursing water away from your home, garage or garden. Various local agencies offer a limited number of free sandbags. Some offer free bags and sand and require you to fill it yourself.

    County residents in unincorporated areas may pick up pre-made sandbags (limit 15) free of charge. Find out where to pick up sandbags, both in unincorporated areas and cities.

    To find out if you live in an unincorporated area, enter you address in the "Find Your District" search function.

    Drive safely: Exercise extreme caution while driving. Reduce speed, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and avoid flooded roads and downed power lines. Remember, it's safer to turn around than to drive through floodwaters.

    Media Contact

    Michelle Durand
    Chief Communications Officer