Written by The Business Journal Staff
(AP) — Winter’s run of snow and rain goes another round with the West as the first in a series of heavy storms soaks much of California and icy conditions close schools in Oregon despite a thaw in some areas.
Californians on Thursday saw snarling commutes, downed trees and heavy storms and snow in the mountains.
Up to 3 inches of rain was expected through Thursday in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area while in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains, rain was falling at rates of up to a half-inch per hour. A rockslide closed canyon roads near Malibu. The Hollywood Reservoir got almost three-quarters of an inch rain, Curt Kaplan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said.
Flood advisories and watches are posted on the far north coast and winter storm warnings are in place across the Sierra Nevada.
The National Weather Service in San Diego warns that five-day rainfall totals will likely be substantial and that mud and debris flows could occur as heavy rains fell on wildfire burn scars east of Los Angeles.
Commuters in greater Los Angeles were urged to slow down as freeway lanes and local roads flooded. A big rig collision shut down truck lanes on southbound Interstate 5 in northern LA County.
The road woes were felt to the north in Oregon. A 45-mile stretch of Interstate 84 between Troutdale and Hood River remained closed because of ice.
The temperature in Hood River was expected to climb to slightly above freezing Thursday, melting some of the ice that has turned the highway into a skating rink. But it’s a slow process.
With snow and ice hanging around, schools were closed in several districts Thursday, as well as some state agency offices.
Interstate 90 in Washington state will likely remain closed across Snoqualmie Pass on Thursday as crews try to clear tons of fallen debris, fallen trees, rocks and snow that covered the busy road during this week’s winter storm.
Transportation officials closed an 80-mile stretch of the interstate on Wednesday, causing long backups of trucks and traffic waiting to cross the pass.
A second storm will arrive Thursday night and could drop another 2 inches of rain and up to 3 inches in LA-area foothills by Saturday, forecasters said. Forecasters cautioned that mud and debris flows could occur if heavy rains fell on wildfire burn scars.
The third storm is predicted to be the strongest and will arrive Sunday. Fueled by warmer, moist air, the storm could dump up to 3 inches of rain in the valleys and foothills, and up to 5 inches of rain in the mountains.
Storms are expected to bring precipitation across California into early next week, with brief breaks between systems.
All the rain is paying off.
Overall, California has seen a significant retreat from the once-statewide drought. About 58 percent of the state remains in moderate, severe, extreme or exceptional stages of drought.
But it’s also causing problems.
Wind and extreme weather at San Francisco International Airport was impacting incoming flights Thursday morning with some planes delayed several hours.
Near Lake Tahoe, Caltrans reported that a 4-mile stretch of Highway 89 on either side of Emerald Bay remained closed, with some sections buried in up to 30 feet of snow.
In suburban San Francisco, Orinda city officials declared a local state of emergency to secure funds to fix a giant sinkhole that opened in a road during previous heavy rain.
Flood advisories and watches were posted on the far north coast. Winter storm warnings ran the length of the Sierra Nevada and in the mountain ranges of Southern California, where forecasters warned that mud and debris flows could occur if heavy rains fell on wildfire burn scars.
The Coast Guard urges boaters and beachgoers to exercise caution in and around the waters along the Northern California through the weekend. Owners of skiffs, kayaks and paddleboards are being encouraged to properly secure them and make sure they are marked with identifying information in the event they break free.