Northern Calif. walloped by early wintry weather

AP News
Posted: Oct 23, 2012 3:13 AM
Northern Calif. walloped by early wintry weather

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A storm from the Gulf of Alaska stalled for a second day over Northern California, blanketing mountains with snow, spawning a tornado near the state capital and drenching fans and players at the deciding seventh game of the National League Championship Series.

The tornado touched down 40 miles north of Sacramento on Monday afternoon. Only minor damage was reported when it hit near Yuba City.

There were several other reports of funnel clouds north of Sacramento, but no others touched down, said National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Kurth.

Forecasters called for up to 2 feet of snow at the highest elevations in the northern Sierra Nevada, a good sign for a state dependent on snow accumulation for its water supply.

"It looks like Mother Nature threw us our first snowball," said Rochelle Jenkins of Caltrans, which was enforcing chain controls above 4,300 feet on I-80, the state's main highway from San Francisco to Reno, Nev.

Those at AT&T Park in San Francisco watching the Giants claim the NLCS pennant were less pleased with the weather. Heavy showers and a brief cloudburst earlier in the day threatened to call off the game, though it went on without delay. By the ninth inning, however, the rain returned and the teams were forced to play in a torrential downpour that made visibility difficult.

Fans bundled up in ponchos, baseball caps and hooded clothing to stay dry, though with little effect. After the win, they streamed onto San Francisco streets to celebrate, telling television news crews that they were so pleased that they didn't care how wet they were.

Earlier in the day, chain controls were in effect on U.S. Highway 50 southwest of Lake Tahoe. By late morning, nearly an inch of rain had fallen on Sacramento. On Highway 20 east of Nevada City, five big rigs jackknifed after at least 6 inches of snow had accumulated by midmorning.

A winter storm warning above 5,500 feet was in effect until early Tuesday, and snow showers were expected into Tuesday night, said Karl Swanberg, a forecaster with the weather service in Sacramento.

Showers were in the forecast across Northern California through Wednesday — the day of the first game of the World Series, in San Francisco.

The storm system came from the Gulf of Alaska and stalled over the Pacific Northwest, bringing colder temperatures and gusty winds of 80 mph at the crests of the Sierra Nevada.


Don Thompson contributed to this report from Sacramento, Calif.