The breathless media hype aside, yes, we actually did have a pretty good soaker on December 11; biggest we’ve seen in a few years (which is like saying that first Budweiser tasted great … after a month in Saudi Arabia). Yet, in context…
Now THAT’S a storm. Market, looking east at Church in 1931. That high riding 1550-class Market Street Railway car, on the 8-Market line, just skates across the pond, its Eclipse fender riding the waves. That Willys Knight on the left is up to its hubs.
This intersection was very prone to flooding until the Muni Metro subway was built beneath in the 1970s, incorporating drainage improvements (hat tip: Emiliano Echeverria).
Compare that scene to today, with PCC No. 1074, honoring Toronto (where the bigger problem is snow) crossing that same Market and Church intersection, puddle-free. (Thanks to Matt Lee for the photo, from our Facebook Group.) The building you see at the corner in the 1931 shot gave way to the Safeway parking lot. (Not an improvement.)
The streetcars soldiered through the storm, while the cable cars sat in the barn for the second rain in a row, pulled from the streets by management for “safety reasons.” The cables no doubt were on the street back in that 1931 storm, on Castro, Clay, O’Farrell, and Jones as well as Powell, California, Hyde, and Mason. In fact, the cable cars — and their skilled crews — have regularly handled storms like today’s over the past century plus. Current SFMTA management, though, shows an abundance of caution with the cables.