SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — A strong late-season Pacific storm that brought damaging winds and more rain and snow to saturated California was blamed for two deaths and forecasters said additional flooding was possible Wednesday in parts of the state.
Tuesday’s storm focused most of its energy on central and southern parts of the state, bringing threats of heavy runoff and mountain snowfall. In the north, intense hail was reported in Sacramento, the state capital.
Locally heavy rain and snowmelt may cause flooding Wednesday in southern California and central Arizona, the National Weather Service warned. On Tuesday, some residents of north-central Arizona were told to prepare to evacuate because of rising water levels in rivers and basins.
Trees and power lines were reported downed in the San Francisco Bay Area. An Amtrak commuter train carrying 55 passengers struck a downed tree and derailed near the East Bay village of Porta Costa. The train remained upright and nobody was injured, Amtrak and fire officials said.
In the Bay Area community of Portola Valley, a man driving a sewer truck was killed when a tree fell onto the vehicle, the California Highway Patrol said. And in the community of Rossmoor, a driver was injured and a passenger died after a large tree fell onto a car, the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District said.
In the Monterey Bay region, a severe windstorm located over the ocean blasted Santa Cruz County with wind gusts up to 80 mph (129 kph) at midday. Along the coastline of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, ocean foam blew across the roadways like large snowflakes.
Wind gusts reached 76 mph (122 kph) in Santa Cruz mountain communities, including Boulder Creek.
Resident Frank Kuhr waited for hours Tuesday afternoon at a downtown supermarket for crews to remove large redwoods that were blocking a highway. “Trees are down everywhere,” Kuhr said. “The wind has been unbelievable. Branches were flying through the air, and folks could hear trees just falling and cracking.”
“This one’s a doozy,” Kuhr said.
Some 133,000 customers were without electricity early Wednesday throughout the state, according to PowerOutage.us.
The National Weather Service said Tuesday’s storm, which came on the first full day of spring following the state’s extraordinary winter, was a Pacific low pressure system interacting with California’s 12th atmospheric river since late December.
California’s unexpected siege of wet weather after years of drought also included February blizzards powered by arctic air.
The storms have unleashed flooding and loaded mountains with so much snow that roofs have been crushed and crews have struggled to keep highways clear of avalanches.
The Mammoth Mountain resort in the eastern Sierra Nevada announced that it will remain open for skiing and snowboarding at least through the end of July.
With a season-to-date snowfall of 634 inches (16.1 meters) at the main lodge, it was likely just one storm away from breaking the all-time record of 668 inches (16.9 meters) set in the 2010-2011 season.