Epic flooding leads to California highway closures, water rescues as storm system threatens more states


More than 15 million people were under winter weather warnings from the West Coast to Wisconsin on Sunday as the storm system that caused life-threatening flooding in California pushed eastward.

Tens of thousands of Californians were still grappling with power outages or impassable roads Sunday after high winds and record-setting rains battered the state.

Nurse Katie Leonard, left, helps Scott Mathers, right, rescue Mathers' mother, Patsy Costello, who was trapped in her car Saturday in Pleasant Hill, Calif. about an hour.

Emergency crews in Sacramento have helicoptered out multiple flood victims since the city began flooding on Saturday. The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District said Sunday that at least one person was “in critical condition after exiting the vehicle and being swept off the road and trapped in cold water.”

Crews also responded “to fallen trees on houses and vehicles, damage to vehicles due to drivers pushing through standing water, flooding, water rescue, etc.,” the fire service said.

The Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services issued an evacuation warning Sunday for residents living in the Point Pleasant, Glanville Tract and Franklin Pond areas. Residents in these areas should prepare to leave before roads are cut, the agency said.

“Flooding from the Cosumnes and Mokelumne Rivers is expected to be moving southwest on I-5 and could reach these areas by midnight,” the agency said. tweets“Livestock in affected areas should be moved to higher ground.”

In nearby San Joaquin County, flooding forced factories to close on Sunday All northbound lanes of a section of State Highway 99, Caltrans District 10 tweeted. “SR 99 is one of the state’s high traffic and commercially important corridors,” says Caltrans’ website.

Oakland had its wettest day on record Saturday, with 4.75 inches of rain falling in 24 hours, shattering an all-time record set on Jan. 4, 1982, the National Weather Service office in San Francisco said.

Severe weather is caused by a powerful atmospheric river—a long, narrow region of the atmosphere that can carry moisture thousands of miles like a fire hose in the sky.

Now, as the same storm system moves eastward, it could dump a foot of snow in the Sierras and up to 2 feet in parts of the Rocky Mountains by late Monday. Local forecasters warned travel could be difficult.

Severe weather, including high winds, knocked out power to about 235,000 homes, businesses and other power users in California and Nevada on Sunday, according to Poweroutage.US.

The storm also forced some Northern California residents to leave their homes on New Year’s Eve as streets began to flood and evacuation orders and warnings were issued.

In addition to urban flooding, several rivers have begun to overflow – including the Kosum and Mokelon and Mormon Swamps, according to the Met Office sacramento.

Despite the flooding headaches, the humidity has actually brought some relief to drought-stricken California — 2022 started off the driest year on record and ended with drenched roads and deep snow in the mountains.

But it’s unclear how much of an impact the storm will have on California’s drought conditions.

Officials ordered residents of Wilton, Calif., to leave the area immediately at some point Saturday – warning that rising water could overflow onto roads and cut off access to the area. But two hours later, Wilton residents were told to shelter in place after flooding made the road “impassable”.

Three communities near Watsonville were also told to evacuate by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office due to flooding of streams, while rising water levels in the San Lorenzo River prompted evacuations in the communities of Paradise Park and Felton.

In San Ramon, police used armored rescue vehicles to evacuate residents from floodwaters.

“Flooding impacts continue to escalate as rain continues and road closures are too numerous to be counted at this time,” the NWS said Saturday. The weather service told residents to stay put amid reports of rock and mudslides in the foothills, Roads on the Sierra Pass were also closed.

Crews from the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District conducted a water rescue and responded to a driver whose vehicle failed after driving through standing water Saturday, officials said.

The Amador County Sheriff’s Office dubbed it “Stormageddon” and shared an image of a car with a door handle submerged in flood waters.

Highway 50 reopened just after midnight, hours after it was closed between Pollock Pines and Meyers due to flooding from the American River. Another section above Echo Summit was closed for avalanche control work.

Interstate 80 was also partially closed Saturday near the Nevada state line “due to multiple breakups at Donner Summit,” the California Department of Transportation said.

By late Sunday morning, Interstate I-80 in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains was open to passenger vehicles only, “with R2 chain restrictions,” said Cal Highway Patrol in Truckee tweetsThe restrictions mean that all 4WD vehicles require chains or hitches, and 4WD vehicles have snow tires on all four wheels.

“The roads are very slippery, so let’s work together and slow down so we can keep I-80 moving,” the agency said.

U.S. Route 101 — one of California’s most famous routes — was also temporarily closed in both directions in South San Francisco, with the California Highway Patrol reporting “water not receding due to incessant rain and high tides preventing the water from flowing out.”

In the Sacramento County area, residents were advised to avoid travel as gusts of up to 55 mph knocked down trees and littered roads with debris, according to a tweet from the Sacramento Weather Service.

The county declared a state of emergency, saying the atmospheric river had caused “significant traffic impacts, creek and river rises and flooding” in the Wilton area.

Downtown San Francisco saw 5.46 inches of rain Saturday, the second wettest day on record for the region, according to the Weather Service Bay Area Weather Services.

The heavy rain is expected to slide south toward Southern California on Sunday with gusts of 30 to 50 mph.

While parts of Northern California are struggling with heavy rainfall, the mountains are covered in snow.

The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab reported 7.5 inches of snow per hour in Saudar Springs, about 30 miles from Lake Tahoe, between 4 and 5 p.m. Saturday, and shared the following video: Thick snow blanketed the area.

Unofficial measurements of more than 30 inches of snow were taken Saturday, the lab said.

Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge received more than a foot of fresh snow Saturday, the ski resort said on Facebook, adding that with all lifts covered in ice, “avalanche hazard is very high” and that work will be done across the mountain.

Source link