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California rain: Flash flooding possible in SoCal as officials watch Oroville dam

By Doug G. Ware
California rain: Flash flooding possible in SoCal as officials watch Oroville dam
A forecast map shows areas of rain and precipitation along the state of California on Friday. Forecasters said several inches of rain and strong wind gusts were expected in Southern California by the end of the weekend, and Northern California will receive similar weather early next week. Image courtesy National Weather Service

Feb. 17 (UPI) -- With heavy rains expected in the next few days, Southern California is bracing for a wet weekend while state planners up north will keep a close eye on the water level at Lake Oroville.

Forecasters said a wave of torrential rains will impact parts of the Golden State -- particularly in the south, where the National Weather Service issued flash-flood watches Friday for Los Angeles, Ventura and southern Santa Barbara counties.

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The warning affects about 21 million people, CNN reported. As many as 3 inches of rain have already fallen in some parts of Southern California.

Heavy rainstorms, though, aren't expected in Northern California this weekend, where workers continue to monitor the emergency spillway at Lake Oroville. The dam fractured last week and forced tens of thousands of residents to evacuate the area.

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Authorities lifted the mandatory order on Tuesday, which allowed nearly 200,000 people to return to their homes. Since then, work crews have been shoring up the spillway, which drains lake water after it reaches its 901-foot capacity threshold.

RELATED Officials to further drain Lake Oroville to absorb coming rain, snow runoff

State workers have also been lowering the lake's water level, to below 840 feet, to make room for rain and snowmelt. Forecasters say rainstorms are expected in the area for early next week.

The storms have also been accompanied by strong wind gusts statewide, including 50 mph gusts in San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties.

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