First storm of season packs a punch

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By ERIC BURKETT

and The Associated Press

Already socked by howling winds that triggered more than 300,000 power outages, grounded jets and yanked scaffolding down around buildings, many Californians along the coast awoke Friday wondering if flooding was far behind.

In the foothills, however, conditions were not nearly as bad, despite the nearly 3 inches of rain that fell in some places overnight.

As of 8 a.m., Sonora had received 1.65 inches of rain, Murphys and Soulsbyville got a little more than 2 inches, Angels Camp saw 2.2 inches and Pinecrest was drenched with 3.44 inches.

Clogged ditches, drains, and culverts led to big puddles on the roads, which make driving more dangerous, but as of this morning, there were no real problems.

"They're not too bad," said Mike Barrington, Caltrans supervisor at Camp Connell. "We're fully staffed."

Strong winds littered the roads with leaves and small branches. Near Mi-Wuk Village on Highway 108, a snowplow was spotted plowing pine needles and other debris from the road.

Storm-related power outages were more common Thursday, but were largely confined to isolated areas around Tuolumne and Calaveras counties as of today, said PG&E spokesman Mark Hendrickson.

"About 300 customers were affected in Calaveras County, in no specific area," Hendrickson said this morning. PG&E wasn't able to offer any estimates for restoration time, but typically it takes about two hours, he added.

The National Weather Service issued a high surf advisory along much of the California coast and a coastal flood watch in the northern and central part of the state through Sunday.

Here in the foothills, expect steady rain throughout the day, tapering off this evening, said National Weather Service Far Weather Forecaster Basil New- merzhycky in Sacramento.

Saturday night and early Sunday, it will be cloudy again with on again, off again showers, he added.

Standing water along roadways prompted countless fender benders Thursday, but it was wind gusts of up more than 70 mph that did the bulk of the damage.

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The Union Democrat
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