An “atmospheric river” floods Northern California

A Pacific storm fueled by tropical moisture lashed the California capital over the weekend and may have contributed to the deaths of at least three people in the West, officials said.

Sacramento seemed to get the worst of the winter front atmospheric river – A long, narrow strip of moisture taken from the tropics – with widespread flooding, a major highway closure, and one fatality.

Sacramento County officials said mandatory evacuations were triggered Sunday afternoon for residents of the Point Pleasant area, south of Sacramento. They worried that any need for floodwater rescue in the area would be complicated by darkness after dark.

“Flooding in the area is imminent,” the Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services said in a statement. “Flood waters become incredibly dangerous after sunset. Please get out of the area and off the roads while there is still light to reasonably see any danger.”

County spokesman Kim Nava said an estimated 1,600 residents who signed up for mobile phone alerts have received messages with evacuation orders.

She said there have been three reported levee breaches adjacent to the Cosumnes River in the community of Wilton since the storm first hit the area Saturday, contributing to fears of possible flash flooding in those low-lying communities.

NAVA said the river reached an all-time high of 76.22 feet around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

Mobile phone video from the area showed several cars with water up their windows and as high as Sunday. NBC affiliate KCRA Sacramento reported that dozens of motorists have been rescued from vehicles stranded in high waters in Sacramento County.

Flash flood warnings remained in effect for multiple communities south of D.C. until further notice, according to the National Weather Service.

On or near Interstate 99 in Dillard Road, south of Elk Grove, first responders discovered a body in a car that had been submerged in floodwaters, KCRA reported Sunday.

The cause of death and the identity of the deceased were not available, and the Kosummnes Fire Department did not immediately respond to a request for information.

Portions of Interstate 99, including more than a mile south of Elk Grove, closed Saturday night, according to the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, and reopened Monday morning.

California floods
Cars were flooded on Interstate 99 at Dillard Road south of Sacramento, California, around 11:45 p.m. New Year’s Eve. @tweet

Sunday night, amid many vehicles, the California Highway Patrol stopped eastbound traffic on Interstate 80 along Donner Peak northwest of Lake Tahoe. The snow was clinging to the shoulder, but officials allowed motorists to make the trip without snow chains.

Caltrans said Interstate 50 east of Kippurs was reduced to one lane in each direction after rocks hit the highway overnight.

The effects of the storm were felt from the US-Mexico border into Northern California, even as it moved east into the Rocky Mountains.

Although the past three years have been the driest in state records, an atmospheric river has provided snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the state’s natural water storage treasury. The National Weather Service said on Sunday that Approximately 10 inches of snow Landed at Reno-Tahoe Airport in Nevada. said the facility on Saturday.Heavy snowfallWhich caused flight delays and cancellations.

By Saturday’s end, downtown San Francisco had logged more than 5 inches of rain, an amount for a single day that was bested in the history books only by a flood in November 1994.

The National Weather Service said nearby Auckland set a record in one day, with 4.75 inches of rain. The record broke the record set in 1982.

At Lighthouse Field State Beach in Santa Cruz County, about 80 miles south of San Francisco, the body of a 72-year-old man was found under a fallen 120-foot cypress tree Saturday afternoon, according to park officials. The victim’s name was not available.

In Breckenridge, Colorado, Sunday afternoon, Summit County Rescue Group said in a statement that a man and his adult son hiking and skiing in a remote area outside the boundaries of the Breckenridge Ski Resort were crushed by an avalanche.

The organization said the father managed to escape and seek help, but when rescuers arrived they found the son buried in the snow and had died.

Experts said the first week of the new year will bring more wet weather to the West with storms brewing in the Gulf of Alaska and fueled by tropical rains in the Pacific Ocean.

“The chances of rain will increase again Monday and Tuesday as a series of Pacific storm systems continue to affect the region,” the National Weather Service said.

“The next big system starts Tuesday night,” NWS Bay Area meteorologists said chirp.

Brian GalleonAnd the Rania Soterto And the Courtney Bruegel Contributed.

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