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Atmospheric River Roars Into North Bay; Massive Redwood Crushes Forestville Home

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) -- A moderate atmospheric river sent a plume of sub-tropic moisture over the North Bay Sunday, dumping more than 4 inches of rain on Mount Tamalpais and toppling a massive redwood that crushed a home in Forestville.

As of 10 p.m., the National Weather Service reported that more than 4 inches of rain had fallen over the last 24 hour in Kentfield and more than 3.5 inches in San Rafael with more on the way.

"Peak rain rates of 0.35 - 0.40 of an inch per hour were reported at Tamalpais, while lighter amounts were reported in the North Bay valleys," the weather service said. "Gusty prefrontal southerly winds arrived a few hours earlier than expected with fairly widespread gusts of 30-55 mph across the coast, bay shore, and higher terrain of the Bay Area."

Forecasters said they expected to the plume to drift southward and finally stall over the Central Coast by early Monday. As a result, Monterey County has issued an evacuation warning for the Dolan burn scar area and areas in and around River Road in Salinas until Tuesday morning,

"The atmospheric river is slowing down and beginning to stall over the Bay Area," the weather service tweeted Sunday evening. "Expect it to gradually shift southward and intensify tonight through Monday."

Gusty winds and the rain toppled a massive redwood tree into a two-story home on Woodside Dr. in Forestville just after 3 p.m. The house suffered severe damage and will be red-tagged.

The homeowner was working outside of the house when it came down. She was not hurt, but she couldn't find her pet cat.

Later Sunday evening shortly after 6 p.m., authorities were forced to shut down Highway 101 in both directions just south of the Seminary Drive exit in Mill Valley due to downed power lines. Northbound 101 traffic was diverted off at Seminary Drive and southbound 101 traffic is diverted off at E. Blithedale Avenue.

PG&E crews responded quickly, clearing the lines from the freeway and restoring power to around 2,500 customers who lost electricity. The freeway reopened in both directions at around 6:40 p.m.

"All the freeway lanes were closed, so it was really hectic," said Mill Valley resident Aaqib Ismail.

The outage forced gas stations, retail stores and restaurants in the affected area to shut down.

"I had a bunch of orders that were for take-out. I had a handful of tables that were already in here. In the middle of getting all their food, the power went out," said Boi Soth, general manager of Robata Grill and Sushi.

Soth said the outage came at the worst possible time, during the dinner rush.

"We pretty much lost a day cause we're only opened for dinner service," said Soth.

He apologized to customers and sent everybody home.

"We lost maybe four to five grand. Considering these times, every penny definitely counts," said Soth.

For others, the outage was an inconvenience.

"My dad was watching TV and the power just went out. And we looked around, asked our neighbors, everyone's power was gone. I have finals right now. So I'm supposed to be working on the finals. So it made me procrastinate more," said Ismail.

Aside from power outages, the storm caused minor flooding in some homes.

Overall, most people said this storm caused fewer problems than the big storm back in October.

"Going for a walk even though it's raining. You could put on rain boots and just get some fresh air," said San Francisco resident Tracy Hepler.

"We needed the rain. We needed the weather," said Sausalito resident Michelle Warner.

By Sunday evening, the storm had dumped 1.83 inches of rain in Santa Rosa, 2.39 inches at Stewart's Point on the northern edge of the Sonoma Coast, and 3.23 inches in Occidental. San Francisco had received just over half an inch of rain.

Da Lin contributed to this report.

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