SAN FRANCISCO — Northern California is bracing for an onslaught of rain beginning late Saturday as the southern part of the state dries out and assesses damage from downpours that left at least two people dead.
The rain headed for Northern California could pose a threat to Oroville Dam, where rising water levels may test the limits of its damaged spillway.
Storms are due to start overnight Saturday and linger through Monday, with 2-4 inches of widespread rain expected, meteorologist Allison Chinchar said. Some areas may get up to 10 inches.
Driving rain could dramatically reduce visibility, Chinchar warned.
Meantime, power is still out and cars still submerged across Southern California, which experienced one of the most drenching storms to hit the region in recent years.
More than 131,000 customers lost power Friday night, officials said. Sinkholes, localized floods, and downed trees and power lines also were reported.
In Victorville in San Bernardino County, one person was found dead Friday in a flooded vehicle, firefighters said. A second storm victim, a 55-year-old man, was electrocuted when a power line fell Friday in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, the fire department said.
Skirting death as storm rages
The storm proved harrowing for one Los Angeles driver on Friday night, when the road beneath her car gave out, plunging her to the bottom of a 20-foot sinkhole, KTLA reported.
“My car kept turning and turning upside down, and I was just like, ‘I got to stay calm,'” Stephanie Scott told the TV station.
Scott managed to climb out of her car and yell for help. When firefighters arrived, they used ladders to free her from the sinkhole.
“It’s totally a miracle,” Scott told KTLA. About ten minutes after she was pulled to safety, a van teetering on the edge of the hole crashed down on top of Scott’s car, KTLA reported.
In San Bernardino County, KABC captured the breathtaking moment a fire truck plummeted off a washed-out roadway.
Rescuers were responding to a report that a semi-trailer had fallen over the edge of the southbound I-15 freeway. KABC’s exclusive video shows the fire truck’s right rear tire dangling over the edge.
Suddenly, more pavement gives way, and the truck tumbles over the side.
No one was in the fire truck when it fell, and no one was hurt, fire officials told KABC. The driver of the semitrailer was also OK, KABC reported.
The rain was so strong, a parking garage in Los Angeles turned into a waterfall.
Rainfall totals by the National Weather Service showed parts of Santa Barbara County have seen more than 7 inches of rain in two days. Parts of Ventura County have seen totals of more than 6 inches.
The storm has also blanketed higher elevations with snow.
Winter storm warnings were posted Saturday morning. National Weather Service said snow showers and gusting winds were expected.
Oroville Dam ‘is holding up’
Officials near Oroville Dam are watching the incoming rain after evacuations were ordered earlier this week when a swollen Lake Oroville and a damaged spillway at the dam led to a flash-flood threat.
The new round of rainfall brings more worries for communities south of the dam.
On Tuesday, officials downgraded the evacuation order to a warning, allowing 188,000 evacuees from Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties to return home.
On Friday, officials voiced optimism that the dam and lake could handle the upcoming rain.
“We have generated a large volume of storage space so we can take on a very big storm,” said Bill Croyle, acting director of the California Department of Water Resources
The threat level has been reduced for residents living near the dam, but Butte County officials advised those returning to their homes to “remain vigilant and prepared.”
“The dam is holding up, it’s structurally sound,” said Jay Smith, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.