Weekend storm drops heavy rain, more to come

By Giuseppe Ricapito, The Union Democrat

The rainy deluge that hit the Mother Lode this weekend dropped 3 to 8 inches of rain over a 72 hour period, and meteorologists at the National Weather Service say another storm is on its way.

Over the weekend, what is being termed an “atmospheric river,” or a large plume of moisture tapped into tropical conditions, fanned out along Northern California dropping rain and snow.

The weather caused widespread flooding around the Mother Lode, flood control releases on numerous Sierra reservoirs, mudslides on burn scars and mountain highways, and power outages from wind and downed trees.

Tuesday morning a new “atmospheric river “ will be following on the heels of this weekend’s storm.

Lingering showers will give way to heavier precipitation on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a gradual tapering off by Thursday.

It will be colder in the next few days, Idamis Del Valle, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service said, with temperature highs into the upper 40s through Friday and overnight lows in the upper 30s.

The next storm is expected to drop 2.5 to 3 inches of rain on the Sonora area, which will be less because warm air has the capability to hold more moisture than cold air.

Snow levels will continue to be high as elevation increases, with Twain Harte expected to get 3 to 4 inches of snow on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It will not snow in Sonora, Del Valle said.

The strongest winds will be confined to the valley, reaching 40 to 60 miles per hour, with wind speeds around 35 to 40 miles per hour in the Sonora area. Mountain ridge top gusts will reach 50 to 70 mph.

Del Valle added that there are concerns about flood impacts in the Sacramento area along the Sacramento River, but locally in the Mother Lode, rises in small creeks and streams have not caused too much of an issue.

A National Weather Service news release notes that flooding will take several days to recede in some areas even after the rain stops.

Over a 96-hour period from Thursday through Monday, the Modesto area saw 1.61 inches of rain, the New Melones reservoir area saw 2.16 inches, Telegraph Hill near Columbia saw 4.84 inches and the Pinecrest area saw 7.48 inches.

Increases in elevation were directly related to increases in precipitation, Del Valle said, with the highest elevations doubling and nearly quadrupling the amount of rain as the valley.

The weather event also brought debris, downed trees, mud and water in the roadways said California Highway Patrol PIO Faustino Pulido.

On Sunday, large boulders were located on Tulloch Dam Road just north of Highway 108, a downed power line down on South Airport Road in Columbia Sunday morning brought outages to some locals, and downed trees off Italian Bar Road and Mountain Placer Road in Twain Harte, between Quartz and Bonanza Drive in Mi-Wuk Village, Ferretti Road in Groveland, Jacobs Road in Sonora and Placer Drive in Twain Harte brought some inconvenience to motorists.

Late Sunday evening there was also a rock slide on Coulterville Road, and Monday morning at around 6 a.m. a tree was downed along with power lines on Algerine Road near Lime Kiln Road.

There were no road closures due to the weather event, Pulido said, but one road closure caused by a drunk driver near Summerville High School early Monday morning.

PG&E spokesperson Brandi Merlo said that over the weekend, 4,305 customers lost power in Tuolumne County, with the highest concentrations of outages occurring in Mi-Wuk Village and Twain Harte.

In Mi-Wuk Village, 1,700 customers lost power, 1,304 in Twain Harte, 666 in Long Barn customers, 327 in Sonora, 156 in Groveland, and 120 in Jamestown.

Merlo said that the outages were all the result of the weekend storm, but specific outages can be caused by a range of circumstances, such as trees coming into contact with power lines or poles or wind and rain causing problems to equipment.

As of Monday afternoon, power had been restored to all areas in Tuolumne County except for 58 customers in Strawberry. A PG&E representative was en route to investigate the outage Monday afternoon.

Yosemite Valley will also reopen to day-use visitors Tuesday at 8 a.m., with overnight accommodations and commercial services set to reopen on Wednesday.

Yosemite National Park was closed at 5 p.m. on Friday out of concern for public safety and the impending storm that was bearing down on the area.

El Portal Road on Highway 140 will still be closed due to a rockfall that occurred Monday morning, and Hetch Hetchy Road will also be closed because of a rockfall.

The Merced River in Yosemite Valley reached flood stage at Pohono Bridge, peaking at 12.7 feet at 4 a.m. Monday.

Road and infrastructure such as water and sewer systems were impacted, a Yosemite National Park news release said, but the full impact is still being assessed.

The significant rainfall has caused widespread ground saturation, the news release also notes, which could still be a danger for rock slides and loose debris for visitors.

16122413
The Union Democrat
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