Third Major Storm Slams Northern California: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

Third Storm in Less Than Week Drenches NorCalResidents of Northern California endured another powerful storm that drenched the area with more pounding rain and strong winds, but damage was less than expected, officials said. (Dec. 2)2012-12-03T05:47:42.000Z

Yet another major storm hit Northern California on Sunday, marking the third one to go through since last Wednesday in a weather system that has left two people dead and thousands without power.

However, the rains from the third round weren’t as bad as predicted, and none of the major rivers, including the Napa and Russian, went over their banks, despite four inches of rain that fell between Saturday night and noon Sunday, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. Forecasters said the weather fronts had some breaks, giving the major waterways time to recover. However, the rivers were very near flooding, with the Napa just 3.5 feet below flood level on Sunday.

Californians are getting a short break from the heavy storms, with rain expected to return on Tuesday. However, the major storms appear to be over for now, weather forecasters are saying.

1. The Storms Dumped a Ton of Rain

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Since last Wednesday, the three storms dropped 15.7 inches of rain in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 3.4 inches in Oakland and 3.8 inches in San Francisco.

2. Sunday’s Storm Still Packed a Punch

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Winds came in to San Francisco as hard as 60 miles an hour, even toppling a big rig, and there were crashes throughout the area, the California Highway Patrol reported, as drivers didn’t slow down for the rains and winds.

3. The Storms Left People in the Dark

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About 7,400 customers were still without power Sunday night. In all, 315,200 customers throughout the Bay Area service area lost power between Thursday and Sunday.

4. The Storms Left People Stranded at Airports

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If you were flying in or out of San Francisco International Airport, you were out of luck over the weekend. Authorities said 183 flights were cancelled between Friday and Sunday because of the storms.

5. A Fourth Storm is On Its Way

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Todd Morris, meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s western region, said there will be a break but a fourth storm is approaching the coast. The storm does appear to be weaker, though.

6. The Storms Packed More Than Rain

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Northern California and Nevada had more than rain to contend with, as winds were so strong that the Sierra at Tahoe, a Lake Tahoe ski resort, had to close Sunday. It’s expected to reopen today. Wind gusts of more than 70 miles per hour hit Reno, Nevada, and in higher elevations, winds exceeded 100 miles per hour.

7. There’s a Potential for Even More Disaster

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Officials were keeping an eye on hillsides burnt out in previous wildfires that are prone to mudslides in heavy rain. The storms have already caused a number of mud and rock slides, mostly during the period of heaviest rain.

8. The Vineyards Should Stay Safe

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The Napa River was flowing fast Sunday, but didn’t flood, which could have been devastating in wine country. However, a massive flood wall does protect downtown Napa. It was built after a flood in 2005, when flooding destroyed about 1,000 homes and forced thousands of residents to leave the area.

9. Visitors Could Stay Cheaper in Nevada

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The storms are also slamming Nevada, where a state of emergency was declared in Washoe County, which includes the cities of Reno and Sparks, because of expected flooding. In Reno, several casinos announced they were cutting room rates to accommodate those displaced by the storm, and the City of Sparks opened an evacuation center in a high school.

10. There Will Likely be More Rain

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Heavy rains from late October through March mark the rainy season in California, meaning the storms likely have only started as winter starts to make its way in.