The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Weather Service (NWS) have developed an operational warning system for debris flows during severe rainstorms in the San Francisco Bay region. The NWS makes quantitative forecasts of precipitation from storm systems approaching the Bay area and coordinates a regional network of radio-telemetered rain gages. The USGS has formulated thresholds for the intensity and duration of rainfall required to initiate debris flows. The first successful public warnings were issued during a severe storm sequence in February 1986. Continued operation of the warning system since 1986 has provided valuable working experience in rainfall forecasting and monitoring, refined rainfall thresholds, and streamlined procedures for issuing public warnings. Advisory statements issued since 1986 are summarized.