LOS ANGELES — California was drying and sweltering on New Year’s Day after a powerful storm that brought torrential rain or heavy snow to much of the state blocked traffic and closed major highways.
Dozens of drivers were rescued along Interstate 80 near Lake Tahoe on New Year’s Eve, California’s Department of Transportation said, after cars spun in snow during a blizzard.
A major road leading into the mountains from the San Francisco Bay Area reopened to chained passenger vehicles early Sunday.
“The roads are extremely slippery, so let’s all work together and slow down so we can keep I-80 open,” the California Highway Patrol said on Twitter. Several other highways have also reopened, including State Route 50.
More than 4 feet (1.2 m) of snow had accumulated in the upper Sierra Nevada, and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area said the heavy, wet snow would cause lengthy delays in opening lifts. On Saturday, the resort reported several lift closures, citing strong winds, poor visibility and snow.
In the state capital, crews removed downed trees from roads and sidewalks as at least 40,000 customers were without power early Sunday, up from more than 150,000 a day earlier, according to an online map from the Sacramento Public Services Municipal District. Were.
A so-called atmospheric river storm pulled a long, wide column of moisture from the Pacific Ocean. Flooding and landslides closed parts of highways across the state.
The National Weather Service said rainfall reached 5.46 inches (13.87 cm) in downtown San Francisco on New Year’s Eve, the second wettest day on record after the November 1994 deluge.
Videos on Twitter showed mud-coloured water gushing down the streets of San Francisco, and a stairway in Oakland turned into a veritable waterfall by heavy rain.
In Southern California, several people were rescued after cars were submerged in floodwaters in San Bernardino and Orange County. No major injuries were reported.
With the area dry on New Year’s Day and no rain expected during Monday’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, spectators began marking their spots for the annual flower show.
The rain was welcome in drought-stricken California. The last three years have been the driest on record for the state, but it takes a lot of rain to make a significant difference.
It was the first of several storms to hit the state within a week. Hannah Chandler-Cooley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said Saturday’s system was warm and wet, while this week’s storms will be cold.
Chandler-Cooley said the Sacramento area could see a total of 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters) of rain during the week.
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The National Weather Service’s Los Angeles field office said another round of heavy rain is also on the way for Southern California on Tuesday or Wednesday.
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