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University of California San Francisco

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UCSF Commute Tips to Be Ready for Wet Winter

By Robert Hood

A woman crosses Parnassus Avenue in rainy weather. Photo by Susan Merrell

Are you ready for a wet and wild winter? Although the Bay Area is fortunate to have already received some rain, the worst of El Niño is yet to come.

For California, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting the wettest conditions to occur now through March.

With that in mind, here are some tips from UC San Francisco’s Transportation Services and the California Department of Transportation to help ensure your commute on a heavy rainfall day is as smooth as possible. It’s always a good idea to give yourself extra time when commuting during a storm but here are some other points that might not be as obvious.

Commute Tips

If you commute by car:

  • Consider taking public transit during heavy storms to avoid delays on Bay Area roadways. Using public transit may be a faster and safer way to commute. If you need to drive, avoid certain areas around UCSF campuses that are historically prone to flooding according to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. These include, South Van Ness and Folsom between 17th and 18th Streets and south of Market from 4th Street to 10th Street and Market Street to Mariposa. The Great Highway is often closed during storms due to the accumulation of sand on the road.
  • Take your time. Slowing down is the only way to keep your vehicle from hydroplaning. Also remember that one of the most dangerous times to drive is soon after it begins to rain, as oils on the roadway make for slick conditions.
  • Turn your lights on. Turn your headlights on to help other vehicles see you. California requires the use of headlights during rain, even in broad daylight.
  • Give other vehicles more space. Add one to two extra seconds of following time in the rain, which gives you and the cars behind you more time to react to traffic.

If you depend on the UCSF shuttle:

  • Download the CLS Services at UCSF app to view and track your UCSF shuttle in real-time by clicking on NextBus. You may also use the UCSF Nextbus website to obtain personalized alerts, reminders or arrival predictions by creating your individual MyNextBus online account.

If you commute by public transit:

  • Check for service advisories before heading to stations. Additional information on all of the Bay Area’s major transit providers and real-time traffic (considered the best) can be found at 511.org.

If you bike to work:

  • Be sure to have bright lights and full fenders. Avoid puddles that hide potholes and other hazards.
  • Avoid cotton clothes (they don’t breathe) and wear wool, fleece, or a synthetic material.
  • Avoid wearing a hood that covers your ears and makes it difficult to hear traffic. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is an excellent resource for cyclists.

If you walk to work:

  • Wear waterproof shoes and clothing. The best waterproof jackets are made from Gore-Tex, eVent and NeoShell and include a number of vents to help your body breathe. If you are walking in the dark, be sure to choose a light color.

When should I stay home?

Preparing Campus Facilties

Once you’re on campus, we’re hopeful our buildings will fare well. Knowing in advance about El Niño, Facilities Services has spent the past few months surveying roofs, gutters, foundations, and other areas on campus that are prone to leaks or floods. They’ve stocked up on emergency supplies and established contracts with water restoration contractors for water cleanup efforts – should they be needed. They’ve also tested emergency generators and power systems beyond the usual.

Should you notice any water issues while you’re on campus, please call: 415-476-2021. For the Med Center, call: 415-514-3570.

If the weather becomes dangerous and a true emergency exists, expect to be notified by Warn Me. To ensure you receive alerts, please sign up online, if you haven’t already.

For more campus news and resources, visit Pulse of UCSF.