LOS ANGELES – Wind, rain and snow picked up in California on Saturday, raising concerns about flooding, causing power outages and making travel dangerous.
Bands of rain and gusty winds started in the north and spread south, with more storms expected early next week, the National Weather Service said.
More than 68,000 utility customers were without power by late morning, according to poweroutage.us.
Flood warnings were issued for the region north of San Francisco Bay, including Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
In the south, warnings were posted for some counties, including San Mateo and Santa Cruz, where the tiny community of Felton Grove along the San Lorenzo River was ordered to evacuate.
The swollen Salinas River swamped farmland in Monterey County, and a flash flood warning was in effect for the San Joaquin Valley community of Merced to the east.
Slippery roads, snow, and white picket fences hit the highways in the Sierra Nevada.
UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab said on Twitter Saturday morning that 21.3 inches (54 centimeters) of snow had fallen in 24 hours and that a snowpack of about 10 feet (3 meters) was expected to grow several more feet by Monday.
Backcountry avalanche warning was issued for the central Sierra, including the greater Lake Tahoe area.
There have been at least 19 storm-related deaths and a 5-year-old boy is missing after being swept from his mother’s car by flash floods in San Luis Obispo County.
Half of the deaths were caused by motorists, and some could have been prevented if drivers had heeded road closure signs, California Highway Patrol Acting Commissioner Sean Dury said during a briefing of state and federal officials Friday.
In Santa Barbara County, where a massive debris flow through the Montecito community that killed 23 people on January 9, 2018, residents were told that no new evacuations were expected, but that they should be prepared.
Montecito and surrounding areas were recently ordered to evacuate last Monday, the fifth anniversary of what was locally remembered as “Mudflow 1/9”. But the community, located in the foothills of the coastal mountains, escaped serious damage.
During a visit to Montecito on Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked residents to exercise caution and heed warnings from public safety officials.
“I know how tired you all are,” Newsom said. “Just be a little more vigilant over the next weekend.”
California is expected to have dry days next week starting Tuesday.
“Then the question becomes, are we going to stay dry for the rest of the month?” says the San Francisco Bay Area Weather Service.
AP reporter Jenny Harr contributed from San Francisco. AP/Report for America writer Sophie Austin contributed from Mather, California.
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