Southern California

Second Storm Bringing Cold Blast, Flood Threat to California

Two more storms are expected to hit Southern California this week, with the heaviest of the rainfall to impact morning commutes.

Rain increased late Tuesday night and continued through the morning, adding to what has been a wet start to the year. There will be rainy periods throughout Wednesday before steady rain late in the day and into Thursday.

The second wave -- expected to roll in late Wednesday to early Thursday -- will have slightly less rainfall but will bring colder temperatures, dropping snow levels to 3,500 feet, according to Coleman. This means that the passes -- the Grapevine and the Cajon Pass -- could see some snow Friday morning.

Beachside communities are also preparing for potential damage from "king tides," which is a high tide event that occurs when there is alignment of the gravitational pull between the sun and moon. Tides are expected to peak Wednesday and Thursday up to 7 feet. When king tides occur during cyclones, floods or storms, water levels could rise and could potentially cause damage to property and the coastline.

Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island in Newport Beach, and Sunset Beach have been affected by king tides in the past, with its waters flooding the communities and affecting businesses and traffic, the Orange County Register reported.

The weekend is expected to be dry and partly cloudy, with a chance of warming in Southern California. 

The series of storms, produced by a converyor belt of moisture called an atmospheric river, caused flooding and led to evacuations in some parts of California. Authorities urged thousands of people in Northern California to evacuate homes as rivers swollen by four days of heavy rain threatened to crest above flood level, even as another day of showers was forecast for Wednesday.

About 2,000 people in Wilton, a rural California community near Sacramento, were asked to leave their homes Tuesday evening, as emergency crews and officials worked to try to bolster a Cosumnes River levee in Sacramento County. The river was projected to overflow its banks Wednesday morning.

Sacramento County emergency services official Mary Jo Flynn said water was expected to start spill over the levee, flooding low-lying roads and buildings with up to 1 foot of water.

Flynn pointed out many of the homes along the path of a possible flood are built on berms or sit on relatively higher ground.

An evacuation center opened Tuesday evening in neighboring Elk Grove but some residents said they plan to stay put.

Some 3,000 Sonoma County residents were under an evacuation advisory as the Russian River rose again under pounding rain. Officials red-tagged seven homes, ordering residents out, when a rain-soaked embankment came crashing down.

North of San Francisco, people were evacuated Tuesday evening from businesses and homes in downtown San Anselmo after a rain-swollen creek broke its banks. The Corte Madera Creek was flowing 1 foot over flood stage, the Marin County Sheriff's Office said.

Tuesday's storm was the latest of back-to-back systems -- buffered by a brief respite Monday -- that have brought the heaviest rain in a decade to parts of Northern California and Nevada. More showers were forecast for Wednesday morning.

A blizzard warning was in effect for parts of the Sierra Nevada, the first issued in the past nine years, said Scott McGuire, a forecaster for the National Weather Service based in Reno, Nevada.

"This is definitely a dangerous, life-threatening situation going on up there," he said. "People should not attempt to travel at all."

Forecasters warned of up to 10 feet of snow in the highest mountains, with up to 7 feet of snow around the resorts of Lake Tahoe, high risk of avalanches, and wind gusts to 60 mph. The Sierra ridge had gusts of more than 100 mph.

Many ski resorts shut down Tuesday because of the storm. A number of main roads in the Sierra were closed, including Interstate 80, or required chains.

Nearly 3 feet of new snow already was reported Tuesday morning at the top of the Mount Rose ski resort between Reno and Lake Tahoe. A series of storms already has added 33 billion gallons of water to Lake Tahoe since Jan. 1.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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