Rain, snow pelt Northern California after morning dry spell

AP News
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Posted: Mar 13, 2016 12:06 AM
Rain, snow pelt Northern California after morning dry spell

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California Highway Patrol officer sustained major injuries after being struck Saturday by an out-of-control vehicle as he provided traffic control in snowy conditions on a Northern California mountain pass.

The accident led authorities to temporarily close a portion of Interstate 80 near Donner Summit, a treacherous road in the Sierra Nevada.

The weather was bad enough that the officer had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance instead of by helicopter, CHP Lt. Sven Miller told the Sacramento Bee. He said the officer had major injuries, but was awake and talking.

Rain and wind returned with a vengeance Saturday afternoon, sending people scurrying through downtown San Francisco just hours after a dry spell that spared the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade.

Up to 3 feet of snow was expected to fall in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada through Monday.

That snowpack normally stores about 30 percent of the water supply to drought-stricken California.

"We're looking forward to it," said Leslie Byrd, front-desk supervisor of Aston Lakeland Village Resort in South Lake Tahoe. "We're almost full tonight because lots of people have come up to ski."

This is the latest storm to hit the state after a soaking late in the week that gave a brief blast to Southern California while closing schools and tying up traffic in Northern California on Friday.

In counties north of San Francisco, rivers swelled and the flood risk was high. More than 3 inches of rain had fallen in Marin County's Kentfield in a 72-hour period while the unincorporated town of Venado in Sonoma County recorded nearly 8.5 inches of rain, the National Weather Service reported.

However, the rain that pelted California for days was held at bay Saturday morning for revelers at a noontime St. Patrick's Day parade.

Spectators braved grey skies for the festive parade, some wearing ponchos and hats to ward against cooler temperatures and possible rain. But the weather cooperated, allowing dancers and baton twirlers decked in green to march rain-free.

Stormy rains that started Thursday prompted road closures, including a portion of California Highway 1 in Mendocino County where slides nearly toppled a California Department of Transportation dump truck with an employee inside.

The truck hit a guardrail — stopping its fall — and landed at a 45-degree angle. No one was injured.

In the East Bay, a landslide near the Moraga Country Club prompted at least two homeowners to evacuate from their hillside homes. Tim Alford told the Contra Costa Times he noticed cracks at the foot of his home on Tuesday, and two days later his decks had collapsed.

He and another neighbor, Darlene Martel, hired a geologist.

"He came and told me: 'I would not sleep here,'" Martel said.

Powerful rains also slammed the central part of the state, flooding streets in Fresno and briefly shutting down the airport there. In Southern California, torrential rains snapped power poles and firefighters rescued two hikers who had climbed a tree, afraid to risk a rain-soaked trail on Mulholland Drive.

Another round of showers is forecast for Northern California on Sunday. Then it's back to sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s and 80s throughout the state, said National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Bell.