| California pummeled by heavy rain, snow
| Sunday, January 6, 2008
|SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Hundreds of thousands of people across California remained without power early Saturday following a severe storm that pummeled the region with hurricane-force winds, driving rain and heavy snow.
Around 300,000 homes and businesses throughout the state were experiencing electricity outages by 2:00pm (2200 GMT) Saturday, a spokeswoman from the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) told AFP.
San Francisco bore the brunt of Friday's weather, which dumped up to eight inches of rain in the worst-hit areas and saw winds in excess of 100 miles per hour (161 kilometers per hour), according to National Weather Service Figures.
More than 400 trees were uprooted as winds battered the city, prompting officials to declare a local state of emergency, although there were no reports of fatalities or injuries, the OES spokeswoman said.
"We were lucky because most people heeded the advice to stay inside and stock up," OES spokeswoman Rochelle Jenkins told AFP.
While more heavy rain was forecast to roll across California over the weekend, Jenkins said officials believed the worst was over.
"Friday was the big one," she said. "We are not expecting the wet weather to be as hazardous over Saturday and Sunday."
Friday's storm forced the closure of several major highways and intermittently disrupted mass transit systems throughout the San Francisco area, weather service bulletins reported.
The Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe basin areas were enveloped by snowstorms, with up to 1.5 meters (five feet) falling in some areas, the National Weather Service reported on its website.
Although a blizzard warning was downgraded on Friday, authorities have urged communities to limit all non-essential travel on the region's roads. A winter storm warning remains in place until Sunday.
Further south, several hillside communities stricken by last year's devastating wildfires in southern California were the subject of evacuation orders amid fears heavy rains could trigger mudslides.
Around 10,000 homes in Los Angeles saw power cuts because of Friday's rain, although flash flood warnings were lifted early Saturday across the city and surrounding areas.
In neighboring Nevada, some 800 homes were flooded by three feet of freezing cold water early Saturday after a large section of a canal's levee burst in the town of Fernley, around 30 miles east of Reno, media reported.
Thousands of residents were evacauated to an emergency shelter, Nevada state trooper Chuck Allen told CNN. "Folks have just woken up to a terrible event," he said.
|posted by Moderator Londen time 12:11 PM