The Latest: Man in fatal California creek crash identified

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Posted: Jan 09, 2017 11:38 PM
The Latest: Man in fatal California creek crash identified

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on winter storms in California and Nevada (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

Authorities have identified a man who died after his car crashed into a creek in Marin County.

The Marin Independent Journal reports (http://bayareane.ws/2icWjHK) the driver was identified as 20-year-old Jose Hernandez.

Marin County fire battalion chief Bret McTigue says the wreckage was discovered Monday morning in the Hicks Valley Area.

California Highway Patrol Officer Andrew Barclay says Hernandez lost control of his car at the beginning of a curve, crashed into a cement pillar, went down an embankment and landed in the creek.

He says three of car's tires were bald and that unsafe speed and slick roads might have been factors in the crash.

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5:30 p.m.

U.S. Interstate 80 has reopened over the top of the Sierra Nevada after a mudslide shut it down for nearly 20 hours from west of Truckee, California, to the Nevada line.

Most of Reno's downtown bridges reopened Monday after Truckee River flooding subsided. But a number of flood-damaged roads remained closed, including a stretch of State Route 446 near Pyramid Lake north of Reno where a washout left behind a 50-foot-deep crevasse in the road.

Emergency crews in Reno and Sparks are trying to clear flood debris to make way for snowplows the next two days as another major winter storm moves into the Sierra.

Flooding shouldn't be a problem, but the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning in effect until 4 a.m. Thursday for the Lake Tahoe area where a backcountry avalanche warning also is in effect.

The service says anywhere from 2 to 5 feet of snow could fall at lake level. Four to 8 feet is possible at area ski resorts.

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3:15 p.m.

Sacramento River levels have increased so much that state officials plan to open the weir located four miles upstream of Sacramento's Tower Bridge for the first time in more than a decade.

The weir is a barrier that includes 48 gates that must be opened manually with a long hooked pole to protect the city from floodwaters. Once opened the water is redirected west to the Yolo Bypass.

The gates are opened when the river levels are 30 feet and rising.

The California Department of Water Resources says that as of Monday afternoon the river is at 27.7 feet.

The weir was last opened in 2005.

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2:25 p.m.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval says officials are checking to determine the severity of damage to property, bridges and roads following heavy rains and flooding.

But the governor said during a tour of Reno and the neighboring city of Sparks that no serious injuries or deaths have been reported because of flooding authorities feared might be the worst in a decade.

Sandoval says damage doesn't appear to be as bad as feared but that the impact is difficult for those who were affected.

Washoe County Manager John Slaughter says a state highway is closed near Pyramid Lake in western Nevada where three sections of road washed out.

In downtown Reno, some bridges have reopened. Others will be inspected for structural integrity before traffic is allowed on them again.

In Sparks, city spokesman Adam Mayberry says water continues to surround at least a dozen buildings in an industrial park near the Truckee River.

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1:15 p.m.

A Nevada National Guard official says high-water vehicles arrived but were not needed to evacuate residents affected by flooding in a town east of Reno.

Lt. Col. Mickey Kirschenbaum said Monday that guard members and five of the big vehicles will remain for now in Lockwood.

Kirschenbaum says it appears residents who wanted to leave a neighborhood cut off by flooding were able to make their way out.

Kirschenbaum says plans have been called off for the guard to use two more of the 2.5-ton diesel vehicles to shuttle damage assessment teams to Sparks.

He says regular emergency vehicles are being used.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval plans to tour flooded areas in Reno and Sparks where residents were evacuated from homes and an industrial area flooded near the Truckee River.

No injuries have been reported.

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1 p.m.

Rangers at Yosemite National Park say they will reopen the valley floor to visitors Tuesday morning after it was closed through the weekend and Monday because of a storm-swollen river.

Park Spokesman Scott Gediman says that the Merced River that runs through the valley floor reached its high point early Monday morning and is gradually dropping.

Gediman said that guests will be allowed back in starting at 8 a.m. for day visitors.

Overnight guests will be allowed Wednesday, giving hotel and restaurant workers time to prepare.

The Yosemite valley floor was closed for the entire weekend because of the massive storm that caused flooding.

Park workers are checking on the extent of damage to water and sewer systems.

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10:45 a.m.

Los Angeles County health officials are advising swimmers and surfers to stay out of the ocean for at least three days because of heavy storm runoff.

The advisory issued Monday came as a massive storm system moved through Southern California with heavy rain and minor flooding.

Seawater bacteria levels can increase significantly during and after rainstorms as contaminants in storm runoff enter the ocean via storm drains, creeks and rivers.

The advisories are common customary following heavy rains. The current advisory is in place through Thursday morning.

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10:30 a.m.

Reno has been hit by flooding of roads and businesses plus malfunctioning traffic lights but the washouts ended up not as devastating as officials feared.

Authorities say the Truckee River peaked at 19.5 feet on Monday, more than four feet above flood stage.

Projections of a 20.5 foot crest that would have crossed a key flood severity threshold did not materialize.

The hardest-hit area is an industrial and warehouse district in the city of Sparks next to Reno.

About 200 people spent the night at emergency shelters but many were going home Monday.

The Nevada National Guard is deploying high-water vehicles to help evacuate residents in one town.

Sparks spokesman Adam Mayberry said just because the river has peaked doesn't mean the city is back to normal.

He says the main priority of authorities is reopening roads and getting evacuated people home.

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10:10 a.m.

California authorities say a 12-year-old girl was rescued from a car that flipped upside down into a storm-surged creek next to a Northern California road.

KCRA-TV in Sacramento reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/2iaVgIg) that deputies came upon the small car overturned near Highway 49 in Placer County.

They say a woman pulled herself from the car partially submerged under flowing storm runoff. She screamed that her daughter was still inside.

Deputies for the Placer County Sheriff's Office report they rescued the girl with help from passing motorists.

Eighteen-year-old motorist Jared Sharp tells the KCRA-TV that the car's doors were jammed, making it difficult to remove the girl.

Authorities say the girl was unconscious but became alert after receiving first aid.

No details were provided about her condition.

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8:50 a.m.

The Nevada National Guard is deploying high-water vehicles to help evacuate residents in one town east of Reno, and to shuttle damage assessment teams to Sparks.

Lt. Col. Mickey Kirschenbaum said Monday about a dozen guard members are involved. He says the agency has other resources available, including helicopters on standby if needed.

Kirschenbaum says five of the vehicles will be used to help evacuate people from a neighborhood that's been cut off by flooding in the town of Lockwood east of Reno.

About 1,300 residents have been evacuated from about 400 homes in a Reno neighborhood near the Truckee River.

Flooding in the city Sparks next to Reno was expected to send several feet of water early Monday into an industrial area where 25,000 people work.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has declared a state of emergency in flooded areas and told non-essential state employees to stay home from work.

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8:15 a.m.

A heavy winter storm that blocked roads and caused widespread flooding has shuttered some ski resorts in Northern California for a second day.

Sugar Bowl Resort posts on its Facebook page that a power outage and "significant avalanche hazards" will keep the resort closed until Tuesday morning. It was closed Sunday.

Heavenly Mountain also stated on social media that it was experiencing strong winds and that the California side was without power. It, too, closed Sunday.

To the south, spokeswoman Joani Lynch says Mammoth Mountain ski resort would open Monday after closing Sunday over high winds, thunder and lightning.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Anderson in Monterey says residents should expect another round of moderate to heavy rain starting early Tuesday.

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7 a.m.

A fast-moving storm cell dumped heavy rain across Southern California, flooding roads and highways and snarling commuter traffic.

The National Weather Service issued flash flood advisories Monday as river levels rose in mountain areas from Kern County south into Los Angeles County.

Water pooled in roadways, causing traffic backups.

Residents along LA-area hillsides scarred by wildfires are warned of possible mudslides, but only minor debris flows have been reported.

The downpours are expected to lighten throughout the morning, but there is another chance of rain Tuesday night into Wednesday and again later in the week.

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5 a.m.

Hundreds of people fled homes in Northern California and Nevada as a massive winter storm packing heavy rain, strong winds and lightning caused mudslides and widespread flooding.

The Russian River in California's Sonoma County and the Truckee River near Reno, Nevada, overflowed their banks late Sunday and officials say both waterways could stay at the flood stage for days.

Schools are canceled Monday in hard-hit Sonoma County, where thousands are without power and many roads are unpassable.

Mudslides caused road closures across the region, including along major highways.

Fears of avalanches are growing in the northern Sierra Nevada as rain soaks the snowpack.

Heavy rain has also moved into Southern California, where commuters are warned of flooding along Los Angeles-area highways.

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1 a.m.

A well-known giant sequoia tree known for the huge tunnel carved through it has toppled during California's weekend storms.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/2i8THu8) that the historic Pioneer Cabin in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Calaveras County came down during heavy rains on Sunday.

The tree was hollowed out in the 1880s to allow tourists to pass through it.

Cars later used the massive tunnel, but more recently it has hosted only hikers.

Park volunteer Jim Allday of Arnold says the tree shattered as it hit the ground.

There was no immediate word on what caused the tee to fall, but the Chronicle reports that it probably had to do with the tree's shallow root system and the inundation.