Feb 21, 2017

Flooding, evacuations rock drenched Northern California

Salinas, CA
USA
by
John Bacon and Chelcey Adami
,
USA Today
A man who lives in his RV in Salinas, Calif., walks through the flooded street on Mon., Feb. 20, 2016. Photo: Nic Coury, AP
A man who lives in his RV in Salinas, Calif., walks through the flooded street on Mon., Feb. 20, 2016. Photo: Nic Coury, AP

The atmospheric river walloping California with drenching rains and gale-force winds eased Tuesday after forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes as rivers and creeks swelled to dangerous levels.

The series of storms, which dumped up to 10 inches of rain on Southern California late last week, roared through Northern California on Monday. San Francisco was slammed with almost 2 inches of rain; some areas in the mountains got more than 6 inches. One wind gust reached 199 mph.

The threat was far from over.

"Continued runoff and high stream flows will stress levees leading to bank erosion, boils and breaches," the National Weather Service said in a flood warning issued Tuesday. "Flooding has occurred in locations that have not experienced flooding in many years.

In Monterey County, rising waters in the Carmel River, Santa Rita Creek and other waterways forced evacuation of several communities. In Salinas, about 100 miles south of San Francisco, a mandatory evacuation remained in effect for 1,000 people Tuesday.

...

In San Joaquin County, a levee breach on the San Joaquin River forced evacuation of 500 residents. Responders halted the breach and workers hoped to stabilize the levee, but the evacuation order remained in place Tuesday, the county Office of Emergency Services said.

Hundreds of other residents in the region fled rising waters. And in Spring Valley, about 2,000 people were cut off when two entrance roads were blocked by flooding and mudslides, Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin said.

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Winds howled — a gust of 199 mph was measured atop Ward Mountain at the Alpine Meadows ski resort late Monday evening, the National Weather Service said. The ski area was closed Tuesday due to avalanche danger and continuing high winds, which averaged over 100 mph Tuesday morning.