Latest storm leaves California a cold, soggy mess
Both Los Angeles and San Francisco have seen record precipitation since July.
Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 1:05 a.m.
LOS ANGELES - Rain-soaked California got even wetter Monday as another storm dumped heavy snow in the mountains, eroded beaches and shut down a 40-mile stretch of the state's major north-south highway.
Flooded roads turned Southern California's morning commute into a white-knuckle obstacle course, while mountain snow left the peaks above Los Angeles capped with white.
About 2 feet of snow fell in the Tejon Pass north of Los Angeles, stranding some drivers and shutting down a section of Interstate 5. It was not clear when the pass would reopen.
"It's pretty slippery," driver Ravinder Singh told KTLA-TV. "We didn't know it was going to be snowing. We're kind of stuck."
One man died in the San Fernando Valley when his car went off a road and slammed into a palm tree. Another man was killed in Pomona when he tried to run across the San Bernardino Freeway and was struck by two vehicles.
In Goleta, near Santa Barbara, surging high tides washed away tons of sand deposited last year as part of a $2 million beach-preservation project. Most of the 80,000 cubic yards of sand used to curb erosion has been swept away, leaving a jagged wall of sand and dirt and forcing officials to close part of the coastline as a safety precaution.
California has been battered during the past week by severe storms that caused widespread street flooding. More storms are expected later in the week.
Average yearly rainfall totals, measured from July 1 to June 30, have already been surpassed in some areas. Los Angeles has received 15.4 inches of rain since July 1, compared with a yearly average of 14.7 inches, the National Weather Service reported.
The city recorded the single-wettest day in December on Tuesday when 5¶ inches fell. It also marked the third-wettest day on record since 1921.
San Francisco has seen 13.8 inches since July 1, compared with an annual average of 8.3 inches during the same period.
Forecasters cautioned that the drenching likely will not mark an end to the long-term drought in Central and Southern California.
"It certainly provides some relief, but a drought is a multiyear problem," said Dan Keeton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "One year of good rain doesn't mean a full recovery."
The latest storm swept through Northern California on Sunday, delaying about half of the flights arriving at San Francisco International Airport and intermittently closing two main routes across the Sierra Nevada. Both were opened Monday morning.
Some ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area reported as much as 9 feet of snow since late last week.
"It's pretty much been nonstop," said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Jon Dietrich.
The storms have been caused by an extensive low pressure system that edged down from the Gulf of Alaska and remained parked off the Pacific Northwest coast. The latest front was expected to linger through Tuesday in Southern California before another system moves over the state later this week.
In Nevada, crews struggled for a fourth day to clear roads after a powerful storm dumped up to 4 feet of snow in some areas around Reno. "We're making progress," city spokesman Steve Frady said, calling it the community's heaviest snowfall in 15 years.
Farther east, an ice storm made travel treacherous and extended the holiday break for schools in Nebraska.
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