A powerful storm dumped heavy rain or heavy snow on much of California on Saturday, snarling traffic and closing highways as the state prepared to start the new year.
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In the higher Sierra Nevada, up to 2 feet (0.6 m) of snow could accumulate as early as Sunday. The National Weather Service in Sacramento warned of dangerous driving conditions and posted photos on Twitter showing traffic on snow-covered mountain passes where vehicles required chains or four-wheel drive.
The so-called atmospheric river storm was pulling up long and wide plumes of moisture from the Pacific Ocean. Parts of roads were closed in Northern California due to flooding and landslides.
“Too many road closures to count at this point,” the weather agency in Sacramento said in an afternoon tweet. Sacramento County urged residents of the unincorporated community of Wilton to evacuate, warning that flooded roadways “could cut off access to evacuate the area.”
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The city of San Francisco received 5 inches (12.7 cm) of rain at midday on Saturday, the second wettest day on record after the November 1994 deluge. With the rains continuing, it could jeopardize the nearly three-decade-old record.
The California Highway Patrol said a section of US 101 – one of the state’s main traffic arteries – south of San Francisco was closed indefinitely due to flooding. Videos on Twitter showed mud-coloured water gushing down the streets of San Francisco, and a stairway in Oakland turned into a waterfall by heavy rain.
Weather Service meteorologist Courtney Carpenter said the storm could drop more than an inch of rain in the Sacramento area before turning south. A ski resort south of Lake Tahoe closed chair lifts due to flooding and operational problems, and posted a photo on Twitter showing a lift tower and its empty chairs surrounded by water.
“We’re seeing a lot of flooding,” Carpenter said.
The Sacramento agency released a map of the 24 hours of precipitation through Saturday morning that showed a wide range of totals in the region, from less than an inch (2.54 cm) in some areas to 5 inches (12.7 cm) in the Sierra Foothills. more .
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Mammoth Mountain Ski Area reported several lift closures, citing strong winds, low visibility and snow.
The Stockton Police Department posted pictures of a flooded railroad underpass and a car stuck in more than a foot (30 cm) of water.
The rain was welcomed in drought-stricken California, but a lot more precipitation is needed to make a significant difference. The past three years have been California’s driest on record.
National Weather Service A winter storm warning is in effect for the upper elevations of the Sierra from south of Yosemite National Park to north of Lake Tahoe, where up to 5 feet (1.5 m) of snow is possible atop the mountains National Weather Service Reno, Nevada said in.
A flood watch was in effect for much of Northern California through New Year’s Eve. Officials warned that rivers and streams could overflow and urged residents to prepare sandbags.
Some rainfall totals topped 4 inches (10 cm) in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The state transportation agency reported several road closures, including Highway 70 east of Chico, which was partially closed by a slide, and the north side of Highway 49 east of Sacramento, which was closed due to flooding. Was. In El Dorado County, east of Sacramento, a portion of Highway 50 was closed due to flooding.
Streets were also flooded in Humboldt County, where a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck on December 20, according to the National Weather Service’s Eureka office. A bridge that was temporarily closed due to earthquake damage last week could be closed again if the Eel River, which it crosses, gets too high, officials said.
It was the first of several storms to hit California throughout the next week. Hannah Chandler-Cooley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said the current system is expected to be warm and wet, while next week’s storms will be cold.
Chandler-Cooley said a total of 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters) of rain could fall in the Sacramento area during the week.
“Strong winds could cause tree damage and power outages on Lake Tahoe and high waves could capsize small vessels,” said the weather service in Reno.
Avalanche warnings were issued south of Yosemite in the backcountry around Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes.
On the eastern front of the Sierra, a flood watch and warning was issued for the weekend north and south of Reno, Nevada, where slight to moderate flooding was forecast along some rivers and streams.
Moderate to heavy rain was falling across Southern California on Saturday. The area will start to dry out on New Year’s Day with no precipitation expected during Monday’s Rose Parade in Pasadena.
The National Weather Service in Oxnard said another round of heavy rain is forecast for Tuesday or Wednesday.