California is getting more rain and snow, but dry days are coming

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LOS ANGELES (TBEN) — Over the weekend, more rain and snow fell in storm-ravaged California, making travel dangerous and issuing evacuation warnings over flooding concerns along a swollen river near Sacramento.

Bands of wind gusts began in the north on Saturday and spread to the south, with another atmospheric river storm following shortly after Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

Up to two inches of rain was forecast for the saturated Sacramento Valley, warning residents of semi-rural Wilton and surrounding communities to prepare to leave if the Cosumnes River continued to rise. The warning was lowered from an evacuation order on Sunday afternoon.

Gusty winds and up to three feet of snow were expected in the Sierra Nevada, where the weather service warned of dangerous driving conditions. Interstate 80, a major highway from the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe ski resorts, has reopened after being closed for most of Saturday due to slick roads and snow.

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The University of California Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab tweeted Sunday morning that it received 21.5 inches (54 centimeters) of snow in 24 hours. The snowpack of about 10 feet (3 meters) was expected to grow several more feet by Monday.

An avalanche warning has been issued for the central Sierra, including the greater Lake Tahoe area, through Monday.

The California Highway Patrol on Friday rescued three people whose cars skidded off a rain-stained road and landed on the edge of a cliff in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The car’s occupants “were in fear for their lives and were in disbelief” when they were pulled safely from the car as the front of the vehicle hung precariously over the edge of the cliff, the highway patrol said in a statement.

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“We cannot emphasize this enough. Please drive ONLY if necessary,” the statement read.

Just south of Santa Cruz County, the small community of Felton Grove along the San Lorenzo River was issued an evacuation warning.

The swollen Salinas River flooded farmland in Monterey County. To the east, flood warnings were in effect for Merced County in the agricultural Central Valley, where Governor Gavin Newsom visited Saturday to take stock of the problems and warn of further potential danger.

“We’re not done yet,” Newsom said. He urged people to remain vigilant about safety for a few more days, when the last of a parade of nine atmospheric rivers was expected to pass.

Several roads, including State Route 99, were closed Sunday due to flooding in San Joaquin County.

In Southern California, winter storm warnings and advisories were in effect for upland areas, where many roads remained impassable due to mud and rock slides. Two northbound lanes of Interstate 5 near Castaic in northern Los Angeles County were closed indefinitely after a hill collapsed.

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Downtown Los Angeles set a rain record on Saturday with 1.82 inches (4.6 cm), the weather service said.

The series of storms has been dumping rain and snow across California since late December, cutting thousands of power, inundating roads, releasing debris flows and triggering landslides.

President Joe Biden declared a major state disaster and ordered federal aid to complement local recovery efforts in affected areas.

There have been at least 19 deaths from storms and a 5-year-old boy remained missing after being swept from his mother’s car by floodwaters in San Luis Obispo County.

As of Tuesday, there are dry days in the California forecast for this week.