The Heat Is Online

Monster Storm Batters Southern California

400K Without Power Amid California Storm

 

The Associated Press,  Sat., Jan. 5, 2008

 

SANTA ANA, Calif. - A levee break flooded hundreds of homes Saturday as the storm that has pummeled the West Coast with high wind and heavy rain dropped a thick blanket of snow on the Sierra Nevada on Saturday.

 

Thousands of people had no power in three states and thousands more had been told to leave their homes in mudslide-prone areas of Southern California.

 

A major highway crossing the Sierra Nevada between Nevada and Northern California had been closed since Friday evening because of the snow.

 

East of the Sierra in Nevada's Lyon County, a levee broke early Saturday along an agricultural canal and about 3,500 people were stranded, authorities said.

 

Water was 3 to 4 feet deep in parts of Fernley, Nev., east of Reno, resident Mariana Hicks told CNN.

 

The area had gotten heavy rain on Friday. Rescuers were using everything from school buses to helicopters.

 

Up to 44 inches of snow had fallen in some parts of the Sierra Nevada, the National Weather Service said Saturday morning. Forecasters expected the storm to dump as much as 10 feet at higher elevations of the mountain range by Sunday.

 

Flights were grounded Friday and trucks overturned in Northern California as wind gusted to 80 mph during the second wave of the arctic storm that has sent trees crashing onto houses, cars and roads. Hundreds of thousands of customers lost power from central California into Oregon and Washington.

 

In the south, residents of Orange County canyons that were stripped by wildfires last fall _ making them susceptible to mudslides _ nervously watched weather reports to learn when they might be hit by the fierce wind and heavy downpours forecast for the area.

 

"There's a little bit of a letup right now in the rain, but there's still a huge band of rain that's going to come in today," Ted MacKechnie, a National Weather Service forecaster, said Saturday morning.

 

About 3,000 people in four canyons had been told to leave their homes by 7 p.m. Friday, Orange County fire Capt. Mike Blawn said.

"We don't take these evacuation orders lightly. We do everything we can to make sure they're necessary," Blawn said. "The thing with debris flows, mudslides and flash floods is that you can't see them coming."

 

However, there was no indication how many obeyed. "We have been hearing that very small percentage of them actually evacuated," Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion said.

 

Flash flood warnings were in effect Saturday for broad swaths of Southern California, including most of Los Angeles County and southeastern Santa Barbara County.

 

Homeowners in Southern California and the Central Valley stacked sandbags and hay bales around their homes to keep out floods. A voluntary evacuation was in effect at an apartment complex northwest of downtown Los Angeles because of flooding and a small mudslide.

 

In the Sierra Nevada, where a winter storm warning was in effect, the California Department of Transportation said Interstate 80, the main east-west link between Northern California and Nevada, remained closed Saturday. The Red Cross set up a 200-bed shelter in Truckee for stranded motorists, as well as a shelter in Butte County.

"It's going to be a mess for travelers," said Chris Smallcomb, a weather service meteorologist. "We expect the road conditions will be hazardous if not impossible."

 

Winter storm warnings also were issued for mountain areas in Colorado, where forecasters said several feet of snow is possible this weekend.

 

In the Sierra National Forest, three missing members of a Clovis family were found in good condition just after nightfall Friday, ending a daylong search, when rescuers found them with three other hikers who had apparently gotten trapped by the snowfall.

The state opened its emergency operations center Friday to coordinate storm response, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he had spoken with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff by phone.

 

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection dispatched inmate crews in Northern California to clear debris from roads, spokesman Daniel Berlant said. Swift-water rescue teams were on standby in several counties in case of flash floods.

 

Travelers' flight plans were put on hold Friday when airlines delayed or canceled flights in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. The wind also overturned trucks on interstate highways in Northern California.

 

About 440,000 homes and businesses from the Bay Area to the Central Valley were in the dark early Saturday, down from about 1.5 million the day before. It could be days before all the lights are back on, Pacific Gas & Electric officials said.

 

The huge storm also toppled trees and cut power to thousands of customers in Washington and Oregon.

 

"A huge tree, over 100 years old, just fell across the house. It just wrecked the whole thing," Faye Reed said of her daughter Teenia's damaged home north of Sacramento. "They won't be able to live in it. The whole ceiling fell in, and now it's raining inside."

 

Monster storm sweeps through California

The Associated Press, Jan. 5, 2008

SANTA ANA  A storm that pummeled California with gale-force winds and heavy rains was forecast to drop a thick blanket of snow on the Sierra Nevada today and keep thousands of people from their homes in mudslide-prone areas.

Flights were grounded and a major highway was closed as gusts reached 80 mph Friday during the second wave of an arctic storm that sent trees crashing onto houses, cars and roads and cut power from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Central Valley.

Residents in Orange County canyons that were scorched by wildfires last fall, making them susceptible to mudslides, nervously watched weather reports to learn when the winds and showers would give way to the fierce gusts and heavy downpours forecast for the area.

"There's a little bit of a let up right now in the rain, but there's still a huge band of rain that's going to come in today," Ted MacKechnie, a National Weather Service forecaster, said this morning.

About 3,000 residents in Williams, Harding, Modjeska and Silverado canyons were told to leave their homes by 7 p.m. Friday, Orange County fire Capt. Mike Blawn said. Deputies drove through the canyons with bullhorns announcing the order as darkness fell.

"We don't take these evacuation orders lightly. We do everything we can to make sure they're necessary," Blawn said. "The thing with debris flows, mudslides and flash floods is that you can't see them coming."

Flash flood warnings were in effect for broad swaths of Southern California between southeastern Santa Barbara County and north-central San Diego County, including most of Los Angeles County and all of Ventura County.

A voluntary evacuation was in effect at an apartment complex northwest of downtown Los Angeles because of flooding and a small mudslide.

Riverside and San Bernardino counties deployed swift-water rescue teams in case torrential rains brought flash floods and mudslides.

Homeowners in Southern California stacked sandbags and hay bales around their homes while residents in the low-lying areas of the Central Valley piled sandbags to barricade their homes from streams and creeks that forecasters warned might swell.

The state opened its emergency operations center Friday morning to coordinate storm response, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he had spoken with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff by phone.

The National Guard said it had personnel on standby, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection dispatched inmate crews in Northern California's Butte, Glenn and Placer counties to clear debris from roadways, spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

The agency also deployed swift-water rescue teams in Butte, Placer and Riverside counties to handle torrential rains that might bring flash floods and mudslides.

In the Sierra National Forest, a frantic daylong search for three missing members of a Clovis family ended just after nightfall when rescuers found them in good condition with three other hikers who had apparently gotten trapped in the woods after the storm hit.

Up to 44 inches of snow had fallen in some parts of the Sierra Nevada, where a blizzard warning was downgraded Friday evening to a winter storm warning, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters expected the storm to dump as much as 10 feet of snow on the mountain range by Sunday.

Lake Tahoe was forecast to get between 1 to 2 feet of snow, and the Sierra foothills could get some light accumulation when a third, colder storm moves into the region today.

"It's going to be a mess for travelers," said Chris Smallcomb, a weather service meteorologist. "We expect the road conditions will be hazardous if not impossible."

Friday evening, the California Department of Transportation closed Interstate 80 across the Sierra, the main east-west link between Northern California and Nevada.

The Red Cross set up a 200-bed shelter in Truckee for stranded motorists, as well as a shelter in Butte County.

Air travelers saw their flight plans put on hold when airlines delayed or canceled flights in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.

About 600,000 people from the Bay Area to the Central Valley were in the dark early today, down from about 1.5 million the day before. Crews worked to restore power, but it could be days before all the lights are on, Pacific Gas & Electric officials said.

In Los Angeles, technicians were working to restore electricity to more than 10,000 Department of Water and Power Customers who lost service because of the storms.

State lottery officials in Sacramento, meanwhile, said that computer glitches due to the storm kept them from publicizing Friday's winning numbers and could complicate operations through early next week.

Howling winds, pelting rain and heavy snow took its heaviest toll Friday on Northern California, where trucks flipped on interstates.

Winds of up to 70 mph in the San Francisco Bay Friday prompted authorities to ban trucks from crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

The huge storm also toppled trees and cut power to thousands of residents in Washington and Oregon.

"A huge tree, over 100 years old, just fell across the house. It just wrecked the whole thing," said Faye Reed, whose daughter Teenia owns the damaged home north of Sacramento. "They won't be able to live in it. The whole ceiling fell in, and now it's raining inside."

 

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-weather6jan06,0,6010916.story?coll=la-home-center