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article imageNorthern California prepares for another powerful Pacific storm

By Karen Graham     Feb 20, 2017 in Environment
Tracy - Northern California has already recorded two deaths attributed to the latest storm to track across the state after a brief reprieve over the weekend. Heavy rain, mountain snow, and high winds will pound the northwestern United States early this week.
In Tracy, about 80 miles north of San Francisco, residents saw rain begin Sunday afternoon as the big storm rolled off the Pacific, reaching the area and moving on into the Central Valley and to the North.
CTV News is reporting that residents in Tracy have taken the possible flooding situation into their own hands, patrolling the levees on the San Joaquin River every two hours when the water level began rising.
"We have a levee response team, a sandbagging team, teams to check on what walkers checking on the levees find," said San Joaquin River Club resident Paula Martin, who is helping coordinate emergency plans for the private neighborhood of 800 homes.
Wendy Aguilar
Tim Daly, a spokesman with the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services said the San Joaquin River measuring station at Vernalis, about 10 miles southeast of Tracy has remained in the "danger stage" as water levels keep approaching the top of the levees.
"When the water gets that high and more water is coming, there is just too much pressure and levees can break," Daly said. "They can be topped."
Heavy rains continue to fuel reservoir fears
Another huge concern is the Don Pedro Reservoir which is already at 98 percent capacity. Located in the foothills of the Sierras, the reservoir is the state's sixth-largest, forming Don Pedro Lake using water captured from the Tuolumne River, a key tributary of the San Joaquin. The lake has a surface area of about 13,000 acres (5,300 hectares) and about 160 miles (260 kilometers) of shoreline.
Modesto Bee
Meanwhile, at the Oroville dam with its damaged spillway, the water has continued to recede. Water coming over the spillway was increased from 55,000 cubic feet a second to 60,000 cubic feet a second Sunday afternoon in anticipation of the coming storms.
“While the storms will bring the risk of mudslides and avalanches, the greatest threat to lives and property will be from flooding,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said on Monday.
With so many of the state's reservoirs and rivers threatening to overflow, Northern California residents are being asked to prepare for an emergency evacuation at any time. Colusa County Assistant Sheriff Jim Saso was quoted by the Weather Channel: "We're telling these people to keep a bag close by and get ready to leave again," said Saso. "If the water comes back up, it's going to be those areas affected."
Forecast according to weather service for first part of week
Northern California can expect 2 to 6 inches of rain to fall across the San Francisco Bay region and part of the Sacramento Valley through Tuesday. However, local amounts topping 8 inches are possible, including over the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Feather River Basin.
Because the ground is already saturated, expect some extensive runoff. People living near streams and rivers, as well as downstream of reservoirs, should pay close attention to weather forecasts.
From two to four feet of snow is expected to fall on the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevadas. "Snow levels are starting off near pass levels on Monday," according to AccuWeather Lead Storm Warning Meteorologist Eddie Walker. "Snow will pile up and travel conditions will deteriorate through Tuesday."
Additionally, heavy winds will accompany the rain and snow events with gusts of 40 to 65 miles per hour expected in some areas. The gusting winds can be expected to cause fallen trees and sporadic power outages from the coast of Northern California and southern Oregon to southwestern Idaho.
More about Pacific storm, northern california, Heavy rains, flooding and mudslides, Evacuations
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