Another storm coming, creek monitors repaired, El Camino closed at University

The Pope-Chaucer Bridge as of Dec. 31, 2022. Photo by Brielle Johnck.

By the Daily Post staff

The National Weather Service says Palo Alto will be under a flood watch on Wednesday (Jan. 4) and Thursday, when there’s a 100% chance of rain.

Most of the rainfall is expected to come down Wednesday afternoon and lasting until early Thursday morning. That means the flooding risk will be highest after dark.

In addition, the service says the area will be under a high wind watch on Wednesday.

There was only light rain today but El Camino Real remains closed in both directions under University Avenue.

On Saturday, San Francisquito Creek overflowed its banks in Palo Alto and Menlo Park, filling the streets with water so deep people could paddle board. See picture from the Linfield Oaks neighborhood.

The creek monitors, installed after the 1998 flood to let people know how high the water has risen, failed as the water levels were rising. The monitors at the Pope-Chaucer and Waverley bridges were fixed today, two days after the storm.

Also, the city of Palo Alto ran out of sandbags at its Rinconada Park sandbag station. The city had been handing out bags for free to help people protect their homes.

The city issued a statement today at 1:14 p.m. saying, “Crews are working on replenishing sandbag supplies at all Palo Alto locations by this afternoon. We are aware that supplies are depleted at this time.”

The biggest problem was the Pope-Chaucer bridge, which is really more of a culvert below a road. During the 1998 storm, debris traveling down from Stanford clogged the culvert’s opening, causing the water to rise on the west side of the bridge. The water overflowed, flooding thousands of homes.

In the 25 years since, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and other entities formed a Joint Powers Authority to replace the bridge and solve other problems that caused floods. But the bridge remains. It might be replaced in 2024, though previous dates for replacement have come and gone in the face of lawsuits and environmental reports.


  1. Got to praise the city of Palo Alto for the great job they’ve done with this flood. The flood was a total surprise! Never happened before! So there’s no need to be so critical. I hope they give bonuses to all city employees and council members. I read that the city has just found $40 million they forgot to tell us about before the last tax election.

  2. What happened to this bridge in 1998? We live upstream on the banks of the San Francisquito creek. We were told to leave our house in the middle of the night.

  3. Wolf raises some good points. Maybe PA needs a special meeting where we hand out those bonuses to City Staff, the City Manager and his huge $$$ Communications team for being so proactive with this surprise event.

    Kudos for letting us know about the Sangvagging events and to bring our own shovels.

    OOOPS. Those were actually organized bu unpaod TEENAGE volunteers with Vice Mayor Kou there helping out.

    So, when’s the big award ceremony for the City Manager and his staff?? And will there be a Q&A session where they actually answer questions unlike the Public Comments at the City Council meetings where the public comments get ignored.

  4. We lived near the Chaucer St bridge in the 1998 flood. I watched the water rise, My wife told me she had heard that when the water level hit the top of the arch it would flood. When I saw water coming down Palo Alto Ave, I called the cops. I don’t think they did anything. Our house had only a little water leaking in. Not much cleanup. If I had kicked in a patio fence we would have had no water in the house. The water reached about 2 feet on the creek side of the house. We blocked the kitchen door with towels and a case of beer. Water leaked into the garage but did not cause a mess. Water broke thru the side yard gate and flooded the neighbors crawl space. Our crawl space was flooded. I pumped it out. We dodged a bullet.
    Now at 1500 feet in the Sierra foothills we are safe except for Noah’s Flood. We had flood insurance but they don’t cover the outsides of the house.

  5. All I want to do when I’m elected is wave a scepter all day, all the time. Though i promised to take care of the people because i am for the people. After all, the people deserve better. I’ll say anything you want to hear but please please elect me. Reality: Once Elected nothing gets done! Ever! Seems to be the norm now whether local or far away, they all seem like grifters. What are you going to do? Pound Sand! Liar Liar,Liars

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