A powerful storm packing heavy rain, snow and wind pounded parts of California and western Nevada on Wednesday, toppling trees, and causing power outages and mud flows in vast areas scarred by wildfires.
The onslaught was being fueled by a potent atmospheric river from the Pacific Ocean that punched into the state through the San Francisco Bay Area overnight, drifted down the coast past Santa Cruz and stalled over Big Sur before pivoting back northward.
Tens of thousands of utility customers lost power in the San Francisco and Sacramento areas, and a wind gust hit 125 mph (201 kph) at Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe.
Mudslides near Salinas south of the Bay Area caused “mild to moderate” damage to about two dozen rural ranch homes beneath hillsides scorched by the River Fire last August, said Dorothy Priolo with the Monterey County Regional Fire Protection District.
Evacuation orders were issued in advance in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties around an area scorched by wildfires ignited by lightning last August.
The state also positioned teams with specialized rescue skills in five counties.
Santa Cruz County initially appeared to dodge trouble, with no debris flows reported overnight.
But the weather service said the atmospheric river’s afternoon pivot renewed risks of flash floods from burn scars in that region.