CA storm halts freeway traffic, threatens floods
SACRAMENTO, Calif. andamp;#8212; The latest in a series of wet, chilly storms swept across California on Thursday, knocking out power and raising fears of flooding, while closing two main thoroughfares.Police stopped all traffic on Interstate 80 andamp;#8212; the main highway from Nevada to Northern California – amid whiteout conditions and the threat of avalanches in the Sierra, while heavy rains cause more mudslides on coastal Highway 1, preventing traffic from reaching the iconic community of Big Sur from the north and the south.In Southern California, heavy overnight rain sent tons of mud across Highway 74 in Orange County, closing it for hours Thursday morning, while gale force winds and 14-foot waves lashed the southern and central coasts.Gusty winds and rain knocked out power to tens of thousands of Pacific Gas and Electric customers. Among the hardest hit areas was around Yosemite National Park, where some customers have been without power since the weekend, said Denny Boyles, a PGandamp;E spokesman.Thursday’s storms are the latest in a series that has swelled lakes, reservoirs and rivers in much of the state, prompting flood concerns in some areas.In far Northern California, residents are stocking up on sandbags as officials warn that Clear Lake is expected to reach flood stage Friday for the first time in more than a decade. Authorities were searching for a man who was swimming in high water near Red Bluff while he tried to save a dog at an inundated homeless camp near Red Bluff.A week of efforts by state and federal water officials to make room for water from the new storms has been paying off. Releases from the dam at Lake Shasta have been reduced from 50,000 cubic feet per second to 30,000, and river stages in the Sacramento Valley are expected to start falling this week, said Jon Ericson, chief of hydrology at the California Department of Water Resources.Winter storm warnings will remain in effect for much of the state through Friday morning, with as much as 5 feet of snow expected in the Sierra.
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