Three dead in California; Russian River floods 500 homes

Three people died in storm-related incidents over the weekend.

By Ed Adamczyk

SACRAMENTO, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- California's Russian River has crested above flood stage due to heavy rains, inundating about 500 homes with water, local officials estimated.

The floods and heavy rain in California have killed people, including a cab driver whose vehicle plunged into an estuary near Oakland International Airport, a woman who was struck by a falling tree as she walked in 50 mph winds near San Ramon, and a driver who lost control of his car in the rain and struck a tree in the town of Pinole.


Northern California's major rivers crested above flood stage -- above 35 feet, 3 feet past flood stage, in the case of the Russian River -- and then began receding Monday. The weekend rainfall in Nevada and Northern California was the most recorded since 2000.

Dams opened to relieve pressure on levees and other embankments; some, like the Sacramento Weir, had not been opened in 11 years. A second storm is forecast for Tuesday, but Alan Hayes of the California Nevada Forecast Center said, "I think things are manageable. This next wave, it's not as warm, it's not as wet."


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At least 400 homes in the Reno area received evacuation advisories when the Truckee River overflowed, and rockslides and mudslides closed the I-80 highway. A wind gust of 173 mph was recorded in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Thousands of people were left without power, and some stranded motorists had to be rescued. Far south of the storm, Los Angeles County health officials advised surfers and swimmers to avoid the Pacific Ocean for at least three days because of increased bacteria levels in the water caused by storm runoff.

Despite expectations of a lesser storm approaching, a blizzard warning was issued Tuesday in the Lake Tahoe area, between Nevada and California, with 3 feet of snow expected in lower elevations and up to 10 feet in higher elevations. Winds of 80 mph are expected along U.S. Highway 395, the National Weather Service said. A state of emergency was declared in Nevada, where numerous roads sustained damage from flood waters. The state's Department of Transportation reported the Pyramid Lake area had the most extensive damage, with several roads completely washed out, and one eroded off a 50-foot cliff.


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