A blast of warm air from the Pacific Ocean forced a massive thunderstorm to hit the parched Central Coast — and then go inland, hitting Sacramento, Southern California and the Bay Area.
In the mountains, a few residents had to be rescued because mudslides were blocking roads, and a large mudslide was reported in the Salinas Valley, the Contra Costa Times reported.
More than 25,000 people were without power at its peak, the Salinas Valley Air Pollution Control District said.
One the heaviest downpours hit about 7 p.m. Thursday, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter. It said several roads were closed due to a mudslide, and officials had urged motorists to avoid passing through parts of the county.
Before the storm hit, the office said, fire crews had rescued people from four homes damaged by mudslides.
Rainfall estimates ranged from 3 to 4 inches in Carmel Valley, where up to 7 inches fell in parts of Gilroy, up to 5 inches in many areas in Monterey County, and about 2 inches in San Mateo County. In Capitola, a so-called “knee-high” soggy soup was left over from the storm, Bay Area News Group reported.
In many areas, the rain left puddles that remained for a day, and reservoirs still remained below their capacity. Folsom Lake had just 22 percent of its capacity Thursday evening, according to the California Department of Water Resources.
Friday is expected to be the best day for getting rid of any lingering water, and temperatures are expected to reach a high of 81 degrees on Sunday.
This is what California looks like from over the Vantage Bridge in Castroville today. #cawx #californiawx pic.twitter.com/MhvtHy08zc — NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) April 10, 2015
Glen Yarbrough, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said the storm dumped enough rain to qualify as a “strong to moderate” rainstorm.
“We’re going to have a number of thunderstorms. There’s going to be rapid thunderstorms. We’ll see rain for most of Friday, as well,” Yarbrough said.
The fire we have with the ground underneath us got really hot, and some of that is coming up through the soil and coming down. That gives these fire-damaged areas an overall above average rainfall amount.”
In the central Sacramento Valley, where the heaviest rains were expected, officials were warning residents to avoid swollen creeks and streams. Many streets were washed out.
A storm today will be the first of many of those that’ll be needed over the next several weeks. #cawx pic.twitter.com/Qi5BMvw90q — NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) April 9, 2015
One woman was plucked from a window by firefighters in a high-water rescue while a firefighter rescued a dog in a crate. The three people had to be airlifted out by helicopter.
Evacuation warnings have been issued for dozens of rural areas along the Feather River near Kingsburg, the Lake Oroville area and the Italian Gulch area north of Sacramento.
“Our focus is the Spanish Creek corridor, where we’ve seen the most damage, in that area we have flood warning signs and haven’t closed off any roads yet. But we’re expecting to do that today or tomorrow,” Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
California is entering its fourth year of drought, which has been worsened by El Nino, a periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean that can affect weather worldwide.
About 78 percent of the state remains in severe or extreme drought, up from just under half this time last year, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
In San Diego County, Kern County and Los Angeles counties, residents have been told to prepare for a major rainstorm this weekend.
Tours of flood-prone areas
There has been some flooding along the Santa Margarita River near San Clemente in Orange County, the Orange County Fire Authority said. One elderly woman was rescued from a car along the river after the driver refused to take evacuation orders.
Hiking Trails Closed due to Weather