California gets more snow, rain ahead of New Year’s break

Local news

More snow and rain fell on California on Wednesday, causing travel disruptions on mountain routes and raising the risk of debris flows from wildfire burn scars.

Major highways through the snow-blanketed Sierra Nevada remained open, but chain requirements were in effect in many areas.

Caltrans said snowplows were working around the clock and urged people to avoid all but essential travel in the Sierra.

Among staggering snowfall totals in the Sierra, the Northstar resort at Lake Tahoe reported 135 inches (3.43 meters) since Dec. 21.

Gov. Gavin Newsom activated the State Operations Center to monitor storm conditions.

“I strongly encourage all Californians to avoid making the situation worse and refrain from traveling on mountain roads until conditions improve,” he said.

Some people who visited Lake Tahoe for the Christmas holiday found the drive back slow and frightening because of the winter storms.

“It was probably the most terrifying experience that I’ve ever dealt with,” said Emily Kelbatyrov of Sacramento, who spent 18 hours in the car.

“A lot of cars were slipping into snowbanks, she told KGO-TV. “We ended up losing control of our car and almost crashed into two other people coming the opposite way.”

On the scenic central coast, a 10-mile (16-kilometer) stretch of often-troubled Highway 1 remained closed by a weekend slide in San Luis Obispo County.

In Southern California, residents were ordered to leave three canyons in the Santa Ana Mountains on Wednesday night because of concern about mudslides. The December 2020 Bond Fire burned away vegetation and this year’s rains have triggered repeated evacuations. A recent rain sent mud flowing into several homes, making them unsafe.

People living in other Southern California burn areas were urged to leave voluntarily.

A flood watch was posted for much of the region from just south of Los Angeles County to San Diego and inland. Winter storm warnings were issued for many Southern California mountain ranges.

The Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park closed Wednesday due to the weather.

Forecasts called for California weather to generally dry out for the New Year’s weekend before more storminess next week.

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