Winter storms slam California with torrential rain, 80 mph wind gusts

Author: CBS News
Published: Updated:
Photo by NOAA via CBS News.

Two winter storms slammed the California coastline on Saturday, with wind gusts up to 80 mph recorded and roadways flooded as torrential rain drenched communities. A third, weaker storm is expected to dump even more rain Sunday, CBS Los Angeles reports.

While authorities had earlier Saturday ordered residents to evacuate along the burn scar of the Woolsey fire in Santa Barbara County, residents were told they could return by 5 p.m. PT.

Mud and debris on the road forced authorities to shut down part of the busy 101 freeway, CBS News’ Carter Evans reports .Debris basins started to overflow in Montecito, where major flooding last year killed 21 people.

High wind warnings were issued for parts of southern California, with 80 mph winds recorded in Santa Barbara. Wind advisories have also been posted for parts of central and southern California, as well as parts of Nevada and Arizona.

Coastal and valley areas received up to 1 inch of rain per hour during peak rainfall, according to the National Weather Service. Scattered rainfall moved toward the southwestern U.S., with Phoenix expecting heavy rain between 3 and 7 a.m. Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

Multiple accidents were reported on slick highways, including a crash on Interstate 5 that killed a volunteer member of a sheriff’s search and rescue team and injured several others.

The team from Ventura County was on its way to a training exercise when members stopped to help at the scene of a single-vehicle rollover crash.

A minivan carrying a family was traveling too fast for the wet conditions, lost control and plowed into members of the team. Nine people were transported to hospitals, including a member of the rescue team who was in critical condition.

In northern California, the rain tapered off for a time at around 6 a.m. as a cold front moved into the region before sunrise, CBS San Francisco reports. Some parts of the Bay Area saw wind gusts overnight up to 50 and 60 miles per hour.

Many areas were seeing a break in the rain after a large and powerful storm cell moved through the region between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. with that cell starting to move through into the Central Valley.

At around 5 a.m. PG&E reported a fairly large power outage near Santa Cruz that is impacting about 6,000 people. Crews are on the way to try to make necessary repairs.

Up near the Russian River, trees and power lines came down overnight on Bohemian Highway in Monte Rio, knocking out power to about 500 people.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the west slopes of the Sierra including Lake Tahoe from Friday at 4 p.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday. Expect gusty winds, heavy snow and travel delays in the Sierra. The snow level will be down to 4,000-5,000 feet and down to 2,000 feet Monday. Snow at the passes could reach between 36 and 60 inches.

Caltrans, the California Office of Traffic Safety and CHP are recommending that drivers not travel through the Sierra this weekend due to the heavy snowfall expected.

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