Fourth day of wet weather saturates parts of California


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A storm brought strong winds, heavy rain, snow and high surf to California on Sunday, the fourth day of wet weather that has inundated rivers and roads and led to some evacuations.

California is in its fifth year of drought, and though the rain and snow help, it will take years of normal or above-normal rainfall to right the deficit, experts say.

The storm that dumped rain in much of Northern California weakened as it moved south, though the southern part of the state could see scattered showers or drizzle, and beachgoers were warned of powerful surf along the central and Southern California coast.

The rain was expected to taper off early Monday, with warm, dry weather predicted for the rest of the week.

North in Washington state, a man died after a large tree fell on his car in Seattle as a strong windstorm battered much of the western part of the state.

Meanwhile, Northern California saw rivers and creeks swell and flood risk rise. More than 7 inches of rain fell during a 72-hour period in Pescadero Creek in San Mateo County, the National Weather Service said.

Downtown San Francisco received 3 inches of rain during the same period.

“We’ve reached more rain in the past two weeks than what we’d get on an average March,” said Johnnie Powell, a meteorologist with the weather service in Sacramento.

Donny Mata, who coaches water polo and swimming at Bay Area Sunset Aquatics in Vallejo, said he’s thankful for the downpours but that coaching a youth club team in the rain over the past few days has been challenging.

“It’s hard to have these kids in their swimsuits out in the cold and not able to see because the water is splashing on their faces,” he said. “But you got to put your rain boots on and bite the bullet.”

Authorities helped evacuate about 175 people from a campsite in Santa Clara County after a creek began rising, threatening to trap the campers, San Jose television station KNTV reported.

More than a foot of snow fell overnight in the Sierra Nevada, and up to 3 feet was expected in the higher elevations through Monday, the weather service said.

In the Sierra foothill town of Placerville, a mudslide sent a large boulder onto Clint Stayley’s driveway.

“I just heard a big shaking vibration about 11:30 at night, didn’t know what it was, came back the next morning, and all of this was like this,” Stayley told Sacramento news station KTXL-TV (http://bit.ly/1UaBMAJ ).

A tree also fell into a nearby creek that has roared back to life, he said.

“We haven’t heard this creek in five years, now you can hear it rumbling — it’s crazy,” Stayley said, adding that he’s worried more rocks and downed trees could come downhill.

Powerful rains also slammed central California, flooding streets in Fresno and briefly shutting down the airport.

For the first time in more than three years Sunday, water from the rain-swollen Sacramento River spilled over a 33.5-foot-high concrete wall and into a bypass built to divert floodwater.

The bypass is an expanse of farmland and natural habitat that stretches from Sacramento to Davis and was created a century ago.