Latest: Flood warnings as California deluge intensifies

AP News
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Posted: Jan 22, 2017 6:22 PM
Latest: Flood warnings as California deluge intensifies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on winter storms in California (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

The National Weather Service has expanded flash-flood warnings across Southern California as a storm dumps rain at a rate of nearly three-quarters of an inch per hour.

Traffic has been diverted off Interstate 110 south of downtown Los Angeles Sunday because of flooding in lanes.

Evacuations are ordered near wildfire burn areas in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange counties. Officials say potential debris flows could restrict access for emergency responders.

The weather service says excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as other drainage areas and low lying spots.

A flash-flood watch and wind advisory is also in effect across the San Francisco Bay Area, where thunderstorms are expected into the evening.

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2:20 p.m.

A historic ship from the World War I era was torn apart by massive waves that have slammed the California coast during this weekend's storm.

The East Bay Times reports (http://bayareane.ws/2jNWmuH) that strong waves on Saturday broke the S.S. Palo Alto's stern from the rest of the boat.

The ship, also known as "The Cement Boat," is docked at a pier in Seacliff State Beach, south of Santa Cruz.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson said that swells in Monterey Bay reached about 34 feet on Saturday, setting a record over the previous swell height of 32 feet in 2008.

On Sunday there was a high surf advisory in effect through early Tuesday, with waves forecast at 15 to 19 feet.

The S.S. Palo Alto was built in 1919 as an oil tanker by the San Francisco Shipbuilding Company, but it never went into wartime service. It was later bought by the Seacliff Amusement Corporation and towed to Seacliff State Beach, where it was refitted as an amusement ship with a casino and dance hall. It has been closed for decades and left in place as an artificial reef for marine life and a highly photographed landmark.

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12:50 p.m.

The Sierra Avalanche Center has warned there is a "high avalanche danger" at all elevations of the Sierra Nevada mountains because of heavy snowfall that has closed several ski resorts.

The center advised Sunday against travel in the area, warning of intense snowfall rates and gale-force winds.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson said that up to 4 feet of snow were forecast above 4,000 feet, which includes the Lake Tahoe area. And more snow was expected at higher elevations.

The Alpine Meadows ski resort was closed Sunday, according to its website. The Squaw Valley resort opened limited trails, saying it had picked up 16 inches of snow in the past 24 hours.

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12:30 p.m.

Fast-moving floodwaters swept through mountain communities south of the San Francisco Bay Area as thunderstorms and powerful winds wallop California.

Residents of Paradise Park watched helplessly Sunday as the San Lorenzo River spilled over its banks for the second time this month, sending muddy water and debris into yards and some homes. No injuries have been reported.

Battalion Chief Aldo Gonzales for the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection tells the Sentinel newspaper that the river is the highest he's ever seen it.

Rock slides, debris flows and flooding have closed roads and snarled traffic up and down the state as the third storm in four days dumped heavy rain and snow in the mountains.

Flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for swaths of greater Los Angeles, where mountain locations could see up to 6 inches of rain.

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8:40 a.m.

California residents have evacuated neighborhoods below hillsides scarred by wildfires as the third — and largest — in the latest series of storms brings powerful rain and warnings about flash flooding and possible mudslides.

The National Weather Service says the system is gaining strength Sunday and could be the strongest in at least seven years. Flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for swaths of greater Los Angeles, where mountain areas could see more than 2 inches of rain.

Evacuations are ordered near wildfire burn areas in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange counties. Officials say potential debris flows could restrict access for emergency responders.

To the north, a band of strong thunderstorms is moving through the San Francisco Bay Area and heavy snow is expected in the Sierra Nevada.