Northern Calif.’s Drought-Busting Storms Ending, Now Flooding, Evacuations, Over 11-Feet Of Snow In Sierras
Torrents of rain gushed down the street even after rescuers finished evacuating residents more than seven hours later. Some homes had mudlines about five feet high, marking how far the water rose. The water by that time was receding but still waist-deep in places.
“It’s just a lot of water,” said Kevin O’Neill, emergency services manager for San Benito County. “Fields that look like lakes. The ground just can’t soak it up. Vehicles that are partly submerged, homes have water damage.”
Forecasters said precipitation would continue through Thursday, but the brunt of the back-to-back systems fueled by an “atmospheric river” weather phenomenon had passed after delivering the heaviest rain in a decade to parts of Northern California and Nevada.
The massive rain and snowfall that prompted a rare blizzard warning in parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains is helping much of Northern California recover from a six-year drought. The series of storms has also added 39 billion gallons of water to Lake Tahoe since Jan. 1.
Stormy weather extended north where Portland, Oregon and Southwest Washington were slammed with a surprising foot of snow, unusual for an area that normally sees rain. Crater Lake National Park in Oregon closed Tuesday and into Wednesday with more than 8 feet of snow on the ground.
The staggering snow totals in the Sierra Nevada —up to 11 feet the past week at some ski resorts around Lake Tahoe — was great for easing drought conditions but bad for area ski enthusiasts as road closures and avalanche threats kept most resorts closed for the third day in a row Wednesday.
“In all my years, it’s so rare to have too much snow,” said Dan Lavely, who moved to Lake Tahoe in 1968 and now lives in Reno. “Having a season pass, you pretty much live for these conditions. You want 2 or 3 feet of fresh powder, and you want to go play in it.”