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Drenched California Prepares For Even More Rain

December 4, 2012

By Terry Collins, The Associated Press

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SAN FRANCISCO - Just as Northern California residents recovered from a series of wet, windy storms, another system on the way is expected to drench the area.

With rain expected to start falling in far Northern California overnight Tuesday, some areas could see up to 5 more inches of rain before the storm moves out, the National Weather Service said.

The rain could be especially heavy in areas north of Redding and across the Sierra Nevada, meteorologist Dan Keeton said.

Still, it should be nothing like the three previous downpours that dumped between 15 to 20 inches of rain in some areas over the five-day period that ended Sunday. Forecasters said the latest storm left the area faster than expected.

"It's going to be significant, but less impactful," Keeton said of the coming rain. "There will be some isolated impact in certain areas, but nothing as widespread compared to what we saw late last week. This was a down payment on our winter water supply accumulation."

Pacific Gas & Electric crews were still working to restore power to about 5,700 users, down from the height Sunday of 57,000 in areas stretching from Santa Cruz to Eureka and parts of the San Francisco Bay area.

Three powerful storms drenched the region within a week. In the high Sierra, more than 5 feet of snow during the stretch forced the closures of a major road and a secondary roadway through Yosemite National Park, officials said Monday.

Both roads typically close in the late fall when heavy snows arrive and reopen when weather allow in the spring.

Sunday's storm dropped as much as an inch of rain an hour in some areas while toppling trees, bringing flash flooding to roadways and knocking out power.

"I think everybody got nervous last week," Keeton said. "These storms came with plenty of warnings, but it rained so hard at times that many were still left surprised by what Mother Nature can do."

Rivers across Northern California swelled from the deluge but did not flood as much as expected. Flood warnings had been issued for the Napa and Russian rivers north of San Francisco, and for the Truckee River near Lake Tahoe.

In Napa, officials had handed out more than 8,000 sandbags and about 150 tons of sand, but the city appeared to avoid any major damage.

In Nevada, rescue crews searched for a homeless man in Reno who reportedly fell into the Truckee River from a limb Sunday night.

A sudden shift in the weekend weather turned rain into snow, keeping rivers and streams largely within their banks in Reno and Sparks, Nev., and Truckee, Calif.

In southern Oregon, the Coquille and Rogue rivers were both about 2 feet above flood stage as a result of storms.

The weather service said more rivers along the coast and inland in the Willamette Valley could be flooded amid heavy rains.

A Southern Oregon man was being held on $40,000 bail after being charged with disorderly conduct and recklessly endangering rescuers after a disagreement on whether to save his three boats that went downstream, authorities said.

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Associated Press writers John S. Marshall in San Francisco and Martin Griffith in Reno, Nev., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Story Image: A vehicle transits a flooded underpass in San Rafael, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, as utility workers work to repair a downed power line. (Noah Berger, AP)

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