California recovers after heavy rain and snowfall of ‘atmospheric river storm’ : NPR

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Traffic maneuvers around a downed tree after it was snapped by a storm in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Richard Vogel/AP


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Richard Vogel/AP

Traffic maneuvers around a downed tree after it was snapped by a storm in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Richard Vogel/AP

LOS ANGELES — California was dry and digging on New Year’s Day after a powerful storm brought heavy rain or heavy snow to much of the state, snarling traffic and closing major highways.

Dozens of drivers were rescued on New Year’s Eve along Interstate 80 near Lake Tahoe after cars got stuck in snow, the California Department of Transportation said. The main route into the mountains from the San Francisco Bay Area reopened early Sunday to passenger vehicles with chains.

“The roads are extremely slick, so let’s all work together and slow down so we can keep I-80 open,” the California Highway Patrol said on Twitter. Several other highways, including State Route 50, have also been reopened.

Pedestrians walk along a road as a snow plow works in South Lake Tahoe, on Saturday.

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Pedestrians walk along a road as a snow plow works in South Lake Tahoe, on Saturday.

Stephen Lam/AP

More than 4 feet (1.2 meters) of snow had accumulated in the high Sierra Nevada, and the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area said heavy, wet snow would cause major delays in chairlift opening. On Saturday, the resort reported multiple lift closures, citing high winds, low visibility and snow.

In the state capital, at least 40,000 customers were still without power early Sunday, down from more than 150,000 a day earlier, according to an online map of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

The so-called atmospheric river storm pulled a long, wide plume of moisture from the Pacific Ocean. Flooding and rock slides have closed portions of roads across the state.

Nurse Katie Leonard, left, hands Patsy Costello, 88, a cup of hot tea as she sits trapped in her vehicle for more than an hour in Pleasant Hill, Calif., on Saturday.

Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP


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Nurse Katie Leonard, left, hands Patsy Costello, 88, a cup of hot tea as she sits trapped in her vehicle for more than an hour in Pleasant Hill, Calif., on Saturday.

Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP

Rain in downtown San Francisco hit 5.46 inches (13.87 cm) on New Year’s Eve, making it the second-wettest day on record, behind a November 1994 deluge, he said. the National Weather Service. Videos on Twitter showed mud-colored water pouring along the streets of San Francisco, and a staircase in Oakland turned into a veritable waterfall due to heavy rain.

CalTrans workers remove a fallen tree blocking traffic on both lanes of State Highway 68 in Monterey, California, Saturday.

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CalTrans workers remove a fallen tree blocking traffic on both lanes of State Highway 68 in Monterey, California, Saturday.

Nic Coury/AP

In Southern California, several people were rescued after floodwaters submerged cars in San Bernardino and Orange counties. No major injuries were reported.

With the region drying out on New Year’s Day and no rain expected during Monday’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, spectators have begun taking their seats for the annual flower show.

The rain was received in drought-stressed California. The past three years have been the state’s driest on record — but much more precipitation is needed to make a significant difference.

This was the first of several storms expected to break out across the state in a week’s time. Saturday’s system was warmer and wetter, while storms this week will be cooler, said Hannah Chandler-Cooley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

The Sacramento region could receive a total of 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters) of rain during the week, Chandler-Cooley said.

Another round of heavy showers was also forecast for Southern California on Tuesday or Wednesday, the Los Angeles area office of the National Weather Service said.

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