SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Fierce wind gusts blew into San Francisco and a deadly March storm toppled hundreds of trees, sent broken glass shattering down from skyscrapers, stirred up unusually big waves in the bay, and shut down both the Third Street Bridge and the Bay Bridge.
The brunt of the storm hit Tuesday afternoon. Two victims died after they were struck by falling trees in separate parts of the city. The Chief Medical Examiner identified the victims as Ryan Taylor, 36, of Clark County, Nevada, and Qiaoying Han, 55, of San Francisco.
On Wednesday, city crews were out assessing, repairing, and cleaning up damages.
“We saw areas of significant damage, as well as dangerous conditions caused by falling glass and downed trees. Tragically, two people lost their lives, which is a grave reminder of how serious and dangerous this storm became,” Mayor London Breed said.
Mission Street remained blocked off Wednesday due to windows broken on floors 11-30 at Salesforce east building and the Millennium Tower.
Weather researchers with the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes wrote that a storm like Tuesday’s “likely won’t ever happen again in our lifetimes over coastal California. Two centers of rotation combining at landfall over San Fran to produce banded rainfall and strong winds.”
Tensions were high among drivers in the city Tuesday evening when traffic gridlocked for hours. Frustrations flared and some drivers resorted to driving up on sidewalks, running red lights, and blocking intersections.
The Mayor’s Office explained, “Yesterday there were major traffic and transit disruptions due to impacts from high winds. An overturned big-rig temporarily closed all eastbound lanes on the Bay Bridge, ferry service was suspended due to hazardous bay conditions, and a loose barge damaged the 3rd Street Bridge that connects the China Basin and Mission Bay neighborhoods.”
The San Francisco 911 call center experienced a surge of calls at over 400% normal call volume during the peak of the storm, resulting in longer than normal wait times for 911 callers.
Winds gusted at 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
A on-duty San Francisco Police Department sergeant suffered life-threatening injuries when he was struck by a tree, according to SFPD. Wind-battered trees fell in Alta Vista Park, Golden Gate Park, McLaren Park, Buena Vista Park, Huntington Park, Garfield Sports Complex, Aptos Playground, Harvey Milk Center, and Pine Lake Park.
City building inspectors directed building managers of wind-damaged buildings to provide engineering evaluations. The city’s Department of Public Works engineers are currently assessing the Third Street Bridge next to Oracle Park.
As another major storm looms over next week, city officials are reminding residents to keep 911 available for police, fire, and medical emergencies that impact life and safety, and for downed power lines and gas leaks. Residents should report fallen trees, flooding and other non-life-threating storm issues to 311, at sf311.org, or by calling 311.
Breed said, “The repeated storms have been challenging, but our public workers have been out keeping residents safe, limiting damage as much as possible and quickly cleaning up the city. I want to thank all the city workers who have been out taking care of San Francisco during and after this most recent storm.”