Friday, January 4, 2008

Breaking: Storm Smashs Northern California

San Francisco

Overturned Big Rig - I-5 South by Sacramento Airport

Over 1 Million Without Power

A massive storm smashed into northern California Friday with winds reaching 80 mph as a fierce arctic storm ripped from the Bay Area all the way to Nevada.

Associated Press

Howling winds, pelting rain and heavy snow pummeled California on Friday, toppling trees, flipping big rigs, cutting power to more than a million people and forcing evacuations in mudslide-prone areas.

Flights were grounded and highways closed in Northern California as gusts reached 80 mph during the second wave of an arctic storm that sent trees crashing onto houses, cars and roads. Forecasters expected the storm to dump as much as 10 feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada by Sunday.

Highways from Sacramento to San Francisco were closed because of debris or toppled big rigs blocking lanes, and local roads were flooded. Interstate 80 was closed in the Sierra, the main link between Northern California and Nevada.

"A huge tree, over 100 years old, just fell across the house. It just wrecked the whole thing," said Faye Reed, whose daughter Teenia owns the damaged home north of Sacramento. "They won't be able to live in it. The whole ceiling fell in, and now it's raining inside."

More than a million people from the Bay Area to the Central Valley were in the dark. Crews worked to restore power, but it could be days before all the lights are on, said Pacific Gas & Electric spokeswoman Darlene Chiu.

In Southern California, authorities in Orange County ordered an estimated 3,000 residents to evacuate homes in four canyons scarred by wildfires and therefore prone to mudslides.

"It's too late once the rain starts. These areas are extremely vulnerable. You're risking your life and your family's life fundamentally" by ignoring orders, said Steve Sellers of the governor's Office of Emergency Services.

There's more...
California isn't the only area being hit by storms.

As I write, Washington State and Oregon are bracing for winter storms, and storms are hitting throughout the four corners, as well as up into Colorado, Utah and Idaho.

Weather map NOAA. Click for LARGE size.

Fundamentally, if you are anywhere near any of the major western mountain ranges -- the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Mountains as the primary coastal ranges, or the Rockies in the interior, get to shelter. A winter storm watch is in effect if the damn thing isn't already on top of you.

Open thread dealing with weather.

If you're in the impact areas (currently Northern California) or have family there, speak up. We want to know how you/they are.