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Heavy snow strands cars in Portland, Oregon; Flooding triggers mudslides in California

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
January 11, 2017, 12:26:54 PM EST

    As of 8:24 a.m. PST Wednesday, this reports story will no longer be updated.

    The latest in a series of storms from the Pacific Ocean is walloping California and parts of the Northwest with heavy rain and mountain snow.

    Effects from the storm include flooding, travel delays, power outages, mudslides and the risk of avalanches. Officials urged motorists to avoid travel through the mountains as blizzard warnings remain in effect.

    While snow piles up in the mountains, the risk of flash flooding will continue along coastal areas and California's Central Valley especially since soils are already saturated and river levels are high.

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    The risk for backcountry avalanches remains high across the Sierra Nevada in California and Nevada thanks to significant new snow loading and strong winds.

    Elsewhere, a family of seven was displaced by a mudslide in Sunol, located in Alameda County, California.

    There are a number of weather-related road closures so far this morning across central and and eastern Washington this morning, the Washington Department of Transportation reports.

    Heavy snow packed the sides of Highway 50 along Echo Summit. The California Department of Transportation reported the road was closed but it could reopen Wednesday morning.


    (Photo/Caltrans District 3)

    In Portland, Oregon, numerous vehicles were left stranded along area roads and highways due to heavy snow. Portland General Electric reported over 28,000 customers without power as of 4:53 a.m. PST Wednesday.

    Several mudslides have been reported throughout the course of the storm, causing stuck vehicles, closing roads and knocking down power lines.

    Most recently, on Wednesday morning, at about 1 a.m. PST, a vehicle was reportedly stuck in a mudslide in Contra Costa County, California, along Morgain Territory Road.

    A trained spotter reported flooding in Jackson, California, affecting Highway 49, Sutter Creek and Jackson Creek. The flooding also led to the shut down of three separate bridges.

    Sacramento weir

    20 of 48 gates along the Sacramento Weir had to be opened as the storm progressed across much of California (Twitter/California Department of Resources)

    According to the National Weather Service, at approx. 9:45 p.m. PST, 58" of new snow have been reported at Kingvale, California. Even more snow is expected at Donner Pass.

    Flooding as deep as two feet was reported along Highway 99 in the Sacramento region. Flash flooding is expected as rivers and creeks exceed flood stage throughout the night and early morning. Heavy rain will continue over northern and central California.

    As of 6:45 p.m. PST, Donner Pass was still closed, but crews were working to clear the snow from the highway.

    Those looking to drive through this mountain pass may not be able to do so until Wednesday when snow diminishes and crews can keep the road clear of snow and ice.

    Unsettled weather contributed to travel delays around San Francisco during the Tuesday evening commute, both on the road and in the air.

    Heavy rain and wind gusts past 40 mph lead flight delays nearly 3 hours long at San Francisco, the FAA reported.

    A voluntary evacuation has been issued for the Oak Manor area of Ukiah, California.

    “Due to eminent flooding in the Oak Manor area, the Ukiah City Manager and Emergency Personnel are strongly encouraging residents in the Oak Manor Area to evacuate,” the Mendocino Sheriff said.

    People in this area should seek higher ground and remain there until the risk of flooding has passed.

    As of 5:30 p.m. PST, over 23,000 electric customers were without power across California, according to Pacific Electric and Gas Company.

    The number of power outages may increase into Tuesday night as gusty winds continue to blow across California. Wind gusts above 40 mph have already been measured across the region, including a 100 mph gust at Sonora Pass.

    Heavy snow has been falling in South Lake Tahoe, causing visibility to remain below one mile throughout the entire day. At 4 p.m. PST, the city was experiencing heavy snow with visibility of a little over 1,000 feet.

    This snow has buried cars in snow and has made some roads difficult to navigate.

    South Lake Tahoe snow 1-10

    Road closures continue to mount across California due to heavy rain.

    Some roads are completely impassable due to rising river levels, submerging roads with feet of water.

    Just some minor flooding.... #countrygirl #riverroad #flooding #whatdrought

    A video posted by Malia Joy (@miabug06) on

    Floodwaters have made this road in Chico, California impassable (Video/Instagram/miabug06)

    More mudslides have been reported across the state amid the heavy rain, including a mudslide that has shut down part of Highway 128 near Philo, California.

    Meanwhile, heavy snow continues to bury the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Kingvale, California has received over 41 inches of snow in less than 24 hours.

    The Sierra Avalanche Center has issued an avalanche advisory for this part of the Sierra, stating that there is a high risk of avalanches at all elevations, including below the treelike. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended until conditions improve.

    As of 1:30 p.m. PST, heavy rain was leading to travel disruptions across central and northern California.

    A mudslide lead to the closure of Highway 49 in both directions north of Nevada City, California while a sinkhole opened up under Highway 128, located northwest of Sacramento, closing down the road.

    Yolo Sinkhole

    A sinkhole that opened up under Highway 128. (Photo/Yolo Sheriff Office)

    Heavy snow and the potential for avalanches have caused additional roads and mountain passes to close across the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

    This includes Interstate 80, which is expected to remain closed through at least 9 p.m. PST Tuesday.

    As of 11:30 a.m. PST Tuesday, this compilation video shows some of the flooding that is ongoing across northern California communities. Law enforcement officials continue to urge residents to avoid driving across flooded roadways.

    The storm is causing significant travel problems across California. As of 8:30 a.m. PST Tuesday, flights into San Francisco International Airport were being delayed by an average of three hours and 38 minutes, the Federal Aviation Administration Reported.

    Across Donner Summit, stretches of Interstate 80 from the Nevada state line to Colfax, California, were closed. There was no word of when the road would reopen.

    River levels continue to rise as the heavy rain continues. The California Nevada River Forecast Center reports 15 rivers above flood stage. The California Department of Water Resources opened seven gates along the Sacramento Weir, the first time it has been opened in a decade.

    Snowfall amounts of 2-3 feet were reported over a 24-hour span early Tuesday morning across the Sierra Nevada, and more snow will fall throughout the day.

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