Heavy snow and rain continue to pound California

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:30 PM GMT on January 05, 2008

Share this Blog
3
+

Heavy snow, flash floods, and damaging winds continue to pound California today as a weakening Pacific storm moves inland over British Columbia. The winds have died down considerably in the Sierra Mountains, where hurricane force winds were common on Friday. The storm's highest winds occurred at Ward Mountain near Lake Tahoe--sustained at 110 mph, gusting to 163 mph, on Friday. Prodigious snow amounts of up to six feet have fallen in the Sierras, with Blackcap Basin in Fresno County (elevation 10300 feet) reporting 71.3 inches (5.9 feet) of new snow as of 4 am PST Saturday. Continued heavy snows are expected in the Sierras through Sunday, with total amounts up to ten feet possible.

At lower elevations, heavy rain has triggered flash floods. In Chino Hills, just east of Los Angeles, a flash flood swept away a vehicle that had gone around a barricade. One occupant was found hypothermic and clinging to a tree, but the vehicle and its other occupant are missing. A mudslide forced the temporary closure of Interstate 15 nearby. Rain amounts exceeding ten inches (Figure 1) have fallen in the mountains of Central and Northern California, and in Nevada, heavy rains caused a levee to burst along the Truckee Canal in Fernley, flooding hundreds of homes.


Figure 1. Estimated rainfall from the blizzard of '08 in Central California as of 3 pm PST Saturday.

The storm pounded the San Francisco Bay area Friday with remarkable ferocity, bringing winds of tropical storm force to the entire region, accompanied by extremely heavy rain. Sustained winds of 53 mph gusting to 67 mph were measured at the San Francisco airport, forcing cancellation of 35 flights. High winds on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge forced closure of the bridge during the morning commute, when trucks toppled over on both upper and lower spans. Winds gusting to 70 mph were recorded on the Golden Gate bridge. At Mt. Diablo State Park just east of Oakland, sustained winds of 62 mph were reported at 9 am PST. A wind gust of 105 mph was reported at Los Gatos south of San Jose at 12pm PST.

The CIMSS satellite blog has a nice description of the unique meteorology of this storm.

Jeff Masters

Sidewalk buckled with tree. (Scitech)
Wind storm damage in Athena
Sidewalk buckled with tree.
Trucks down as result of wind (Scitech)
This is the result of high winds along the Blue Mountains
Trucks down as result of wind

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 65 - 15

Page: 1 | 2 | 3Blog Index

65. Cavin Rawlins
8:05 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
95S organizing nicely

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
64. Cavin Rawlins
8:04 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
my bad
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
62. Cavin Rawlins
7:37 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
58. Drakoen 3:13 PM AST on January 06, 2008
The GFS long-range continues to show the development of a surface low along a front in the Gulf of Mexico.


looks non tropical...look how the isotherms intersects the isobars...baroclinic characteristic.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
61. tmangray
7:36 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
The California storm was less a major precipitation event than it was a major wind event. Even the Sierras have really only received a modest dumping by normal Sierra standards. The snowfall seems phenomenal because snowfall in other parts of the country is usually measured in inches, not feet.

It remains to be seen whether the drought danger is over as far as runoff from the snowpack this spring. The snowpack was running pretty low for this time of year before the storm, and even this event may not be enough. We'll see when they next measure the snowpack.
58. Drakoen
7:13 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
The GFS long-range continues to show the development of a surface low along a front in the Gulf of Mexico.

Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29864
56. Cavin Rawlins
6:06 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
54. extreme236 1:49 PM AST on January 06, 2008
Hey W456...you know that large extratropical low is Ex-Elnus?


elnus was rather absorbed into it.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
55. ShenValleyFlyFish
6:02 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
Looks like a long tough day for a lot of folks. Best wishes and God bless.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
54. extreme236
5:49 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
Hey W456...you know that large extratropical low is Ex-Elnus?
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
53. Cavin Rawlins
5:14 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
Water vapor imagery of the Western Indian Ocean showing the comparative sizes of 95L Invest and a large extratropical upper low south of Madagascar.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
52. Tazmanian
5:03 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
Nevada Levee Fails; Floods Hundreds of Fernley Homes


FERNLEY, Nev. (AP) -- A ruptured levee sent a frigid "wall of water" from a rain-swollen canal into this high desert town early Saturday, flooding hundreds of homes and forcing the rescue of more than a dozen people by helicopter and boat.

To the west, a dangerous layer of heavy snow covered the Northern California mountains as rain and wind from the third storm in as many days hit the West Coast. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in California, Oregon and Washington remained without power Saturday.

No injuries were reported in the flood in Fernley, about 30 miles east of Reno, after a section of the Truckee Canal up to 150 feet long broke soon after 4 a.m. As many as 3,500 people were temporarily stranded and more than 100 had gathered Saturday afternoon at a shelter set up at a high school.

Eric Cornett estimated the water was about 2 feet deep and rising fast when drove away from his home with his wife and three children.

"We saw water coming in the back door and tried to grab as much stuff as possible to save it. The water was rising very quickly and it was scary. The water was freezing. I couldn't even feel my feet," he said.

Lyon County Fire Chief Scott Huntley, one of the first on the scene, described it as a "wall of water about two feet high going down Farm District Road."

"In some places folks had to deal with 8 feet of water," he said. "Firefighters were in chest-deep water making rescues."

Two helicopters aided rescue crews in boats in rescuing at least 18 people.

"Some folks were standing in their driveways and some were on top of their buildings," said Zip Upham, a spokesman for the Navy training facility.

By afternoon, the Truckee River water flowing into the canal was diverted upstream, said Ernie Schank, president of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District. As the water receded, Fernley Mayor Todd Cutler said he had reports of damage to at least 300 to 400 homes.

One official suggested burrowing rodents might have contributed to the break in the levee along with the heavy rains, but the cause wasn't clear.

"We have to look at the weather as the culprit right now, but we are not sure of that," Huntley said.

The century-old agricultural town has grown in recent decades to about 20,000 people, many whom commute to Reno.

Maureen Tabata said she and her husband were rescued in a boat after she awoke to see "water everywhere."

"We did our best to block the water but it came rushing in through the doors and garage. The force of the water knocked over the TV," Tabata said. "All of our furniture, carpet — everything is destroyed. It's just unbelievable
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114649
51. Tazmanian
4:59 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
Yuba County Worker Killed by Tree Limb



The ferocious storms battering northern California claimed the life of a Yuba County employee killed by a fallen tree limb Friday, Yuba County authorities said.

Milton Smith, a 28-year veteran with the Yuba County Public Works Department, died Friday on Griffith Avenue just south of North Beale Road in Linda when he was struck by a falling eucalyptus tree branch while clearing roads of debris, Yuba County spokesman Russ Brown said.

Smith, 57, was rushed to Fremont-Rideout Hospital and later flown to Sutter Memorial Hospital in Roseville, where he died a short time later.

"Our Yuba County family is profoundly saddened at the loss of Milton and the spirit he brought to his job," said Yuba County Supervisor Hal Stocker. "We are so very grateful to have shared in his life for nearly three decades."

Smith was the second Californian to die in the severe winter weather blanketing the state this week. A 25-year-old Corona woman died early Saturday when her pickup truck was swept into a flood channel in the San Bernardino County town of Chino east of Los Angeles.

Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114649
50. Weather456
12:28 PM AST on January 06, 2008
Preliminary Update

Surface observations, satellite imagery and QuikSCAT winds indicate that the center may have been repositioned more northward near the deep convective mass. Wind shear has drop to 5-10 knots which also suggest some organization. Microwave imagery would be helpful in verifying these observations.



Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
49. sporteguy03
4:22 PM GMT on January 06, 2008
Wow what an amazing update with the pictures Dr.Jeff Masters fascinating! Now hows Michigan treating you?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
48. Weather456
11:30 AM AST on January 06, 2008
CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN REGION....

Surface ridging is producing 10-20 knot easterly flow over the Caribbean and fair weather. The easterly flow is dumping moisture along the Central American terrain. Otherwise...no significant weather happening across the Caribbean today.

by W456
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
47. Weather456
10:44 AM AST on January 06, 2008
....SYNOPSIS....

GULF OF MEXICO/NORTHWEST ATLANTIC OCEAN WEST OF 50W....

The western extent of the Bermuda High protrudes into the Gulf of Mexico producing 10-20 knots of return flow and fair weather. Patches of shallow cloudiness over the Gulf. Strong upper winds advecting cirrus spikes from the Central Gulf...over Florida and into the Western Atlantic near 70W.

A ridge-trough patterns is over the Western Atlantic. Flow around the ridge is advecting patches of mid-high level cloudiness and possible precipitation from the Southeast United States to 60W north of 30N. Meanwhile, an upper trough has its axis extending from the Eastern tip of the Dominican Republic to 35N/60W. Synoptic scale sinking motion induced by dry air and upper level convergence is producing fair weather over the Atlantic south of 30N from 60W to Florida. This pattern in turn is supporting surface ridging with patches of stratocumulus rotating in and around anticyclonic flow. Synoptic scale rising motion is ahead of trough, induced by upper divergence, is producing scattered showers between 60W and 50W from 20N to 30N.

by W456
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
46. Weather456
10:33 AM AST on January 06, 2008
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
45. Weather456
7:38 AM AST on January 06, 2008



.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
44. aspectre
8:25 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
Of note, the WeatherUnderground is the 10th most frequently visited news site of US Internet users.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
43. KoritheMan
5:01 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
If this does develop, it'll only be the second Atlantic subtropical or tropical cyclone on record. Last one was in 1978.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
42. JLPR
4:58 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
Actually this is a new low 95l continued moving west until it became so elongated that it just became a band in front of the front now this low is going to do the same, i guess =P
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
41. Weather456
12:11 AM AST on January 06, 2008
Tropical Low Helen (05U) Update 6

Issued: 0400 UTC JAN 06 2008

Tropical Low Helen is located over the Gulf of Carpentaria at 13.1S-139.04E moving towards the east near 17 knots. Position was based on 1 km visible imagery, ASCAT winds and surface observations while movement was base on extrapolation. Estimated surface winds are near 20 knots with higher gusts and estimated pressure is 1002 mb.

Visible imagery and surface observations have indicated that the circulation of Helen is becoming more defined. Surface observations within a 500 km radius indicate a more defined cyclonic curvature while visible imagery show increasing curve bands of the limited cloud clusters. The cyclone will continue towards the east and then south of east under the influence of deep steering flow west of a anticyclonic circulation. The cyclone will then make landfall across the Cape York Peninsula and dissipate inland.

By W456

2 KM
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
40. HIEXPRESS
11:33 PM EST on January 05, 2008
It's the remnants of Pab-Low, 'come back around again. Or, maybe not.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
39. Skyepony (Mod)
4:09 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
P451~ the precipital water loop you posted only goes back to the 3rd. Besides using the precipital water which just doesn't seem near as useful as a WV loop, NOAA quit tracking it on the 1st when it was located at 23.6N 42.1W & became too weak. Looking at the NH WV I posted a few back, which goes back to Dec 31st, it heads east a little after that gets shredded the next day & this has been developing out of the reminents of the 95L low ever since.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
37. JLPR
3:02 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
Everyone got a lot of new wunderphotos im like crazy taking photos everyday lol I guess I need something else to do while the next hurricane season comes =P
here is a link to my wunderphotos =)
Link
hope everyone passes by and rate the pics I sure would love some ratings =D
take care
JL
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
35. Skyepony (Mod)
2:05 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
I think that cold front should catch it & eventually take our swirl North. That's the one that froze FL. Has the record inducing surface high behind it (though weakening). It's also digging deep. Looks like it may get more together as the cold front approaches it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
33. JLPR
2:04 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
whoops I used my other account =P
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
32. JLPR2
2:02 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
30. JFV 1:55 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
Thanks a million for your expert analysis JLRP. We'll just have to wait and see what happens I suppose. Regardless, this thing shouldn't become a significant threat to anyone or anything anytime soon, if at all that is.


no problem =) and thats right just have to wait and see
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
31. Skyepony (Mod)
1:46 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
That is from the remnants of 95L. It weakened badly wednesday but is trying again. Last week NH animated.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
29. JLPR
1:44 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
JLRP your personal thoughts on this potentially developing tropical system plz? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you bro.

umm right now this system isnt anything its just a naked circulation but if the forecast is real then it should start to get some convection and we may actually see a subtropical system. who know maybe Arthur wants to come early.
But according to this forecast the low or trof could clash with a cold front.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
27. Weather456
9:28 PM AST on January 05, 2008
if the systems remains cut off long enough like we saw with 95L then something could form. As long as it does not interact with those potent winter cold fronts.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
25. Weather456
9:23 PM AST on January 05, 2008
also the low intialize by divergence ahead of an appraching shortwave....i still cant shake off the notion that this has something to do with 95L....i stop tracking it a good while now.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
24. Weather456
9:22 PM AST on January 05, 2008
21. JFV 8:25 PM AST on January 05, 2008
I see weather, so it could certainly get quite interesting with this system soon enough then, wouldn't you agree?


yeah if forecast holds true
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
22. JLPR
12:48 AM GMT on January 06, 2008

well we got a nice low but with very light winds I suppose this is the low the models want to predict
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
20. sullivanweather
12:03 AM GMT on January 06, 2008
In Chino Hills, just east of Los Angeles, a flash flood swept away a vehicle that had gone around a barricade. One occupant was found hypothermic and clinging to a tree, but the vehicle and its other occupant are missing.

The people that perform these senseless acts should be charged with vehicular manslaughter, just as a drunken driver that kills another in a car accident would.

Simply charging people for their rescue doesn't seem to get the point across.

People that ignore the safety precautions put in place by local officials should be charged with a crime.
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
19. Weather456
8:01 PM AST on January 05, 2008
18. JFV 7:47 PM AST on January 05, 2008
where would it head weather


its anyone guess...the steering currents seem to be weak as the cyclone is not moving on forecast models. Its similar to 95L where the bridging subtropical ridge cut the cyclone off from the main deep westerlies. In this case its the Bermuda Ridge and not the Azores Ridge.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
17. Parkay
11:32 PM GMT on January 05, 2008
Here's a high-resolution shot of the storm before the meat of it came on shore:

http://weather.psychoses.org/sat/img/tigw01/2008/01/04/tigw01_20080104_2100.png

11MB 5000x5000 file, so be patient
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
16. Weather456
7:23 PM AST on January 05, 2008
Cyclone Phase diagram of the suspected low pressure. Another subtropical headache.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076

Viewing: 65 - 15

Page: 1 | 2 | 3Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
71 °F
Mostly Cloudy