Threat of thunderstorms continues in central San Joaquin Valley

The Fresno BeeFebruary 28, 2014 

Thunderstorms are possible through Friday, although severe lightning warnings in the Fresno area expired earlier in the afternoon.

Winds gusts in Fresno County were clocked at up to 70 mph in Reedley, Dinuba, Orange Cove and into Squaw Valley, said Jim Andersen, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford.

An urban and small stream flood advisory is in effect until about 4:30 p.m. throughout most of the Valley, Andersen said. A winter storm warning remains in effect until 4 a.m. above 6,000 feet in elevation in the Sierra.

Friday afternoon, snow was falling between 7,000 and 8,000 feet in the high Sierra, but the snowline could drop to 5,000 feet overnight, Andersen said.

Storms were taking a “little break” Friday afternoon, he said, but “another round of energy” should move into the Fresno area by the late afternoon and continue overnight.

As of 3 p.m., about 0.54 inches of rain had fallen in Fresno in the past 24 hours. Totals for other areas, in inches, include: Visalia (0.72), North Fork (1.84), Tulare (0.83) and Wawona in Yosemite National Park (1.44).

While not likely, a weak tornado is possible, meteorologists said. If you see a tornado, move to a safe place in a sturdy structure, such as a basement or small interior room.

Shortly before 2 p.m. Friday there were 45 power outages affecting nearly 8,000 customers in Fresno and Madera counties, Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman Denny Boyles said.

A outage in Malaga caused by five broken power poles was reported by PG&E about 1:40 p.m. in the 2900 block of South Peach Avenue. The California Highway Patrol has closed East North and South Peach avenues to allow for repairs.

The broken poles has caused an outage affecting 1,800 customers in the area of North Avenue, Kings Canyon Road, Willow and Minnewawa avenues. It also triggered a second outage involving 473 customers, PG&E said.

About 1,800 customers were directly affected in the area of North Avenue, Kings Canyon Road, Willow and Minnewawa avenues. There also was a secondary outage involving 473 customers, PG&E said.

In Fresno County, there were about 2,700 customers out near Reedley, from South Avenue to Mountain View Avenue, east from Zediker Avenue to Buttonwillow Avenue.

Tulare County had about 2,200 outages between Manning Avenue and Avenue 400, and between Roads 68 and 116.

And more than 1,800 customers were out of power south of Fresno near Dinuba, from Kings Canyon to North avenue, east from Willow avenue to Minnewawa avenue.

Elsewhere in the South Valley, more than 3,700 Southern California Edison customers are without power. The utility was reporting 10 outages in Tulare, Kings and northern Kern counties.

The largest outage is reported north of Visalia with 1,082 customers without power. There are two outages in Delano involving 1,376 customers and another 523 customers without power near Fountain Springs, southeast of Porterville.

Smaller outages are reported in Woodlake, Three Rivers, Lindcove, and Kings County between Corcoran and Hanford.

PG&E's Boyles offered some tips for staying safe during the storm:

-- Stay away from downed power lines and immediately call 911, then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5002, and keep candles away from children and flammable materials, like drapes and lampshades. If you have a stand-by generator, notify PG&E and make sure it's installed safely to avoid damaging property and endangering PG&E workers who could be working on power lines in your neighborhood.

-- If power goes out, unplug or turn off electric appliances to avoid overloading circuits, which can cause fires when power is restored. Leave a single lamp on to indicate when power returns. Turn appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.

The rain caused a major traffic tie-up early Friday in Bakersfield, where a tractor-trailer crash closed Highway 99 at Highway 58.

To help residents combat heavy rain, Visalia officials announced sandbags and sand is available outside the corporation yard, 335 N. Cain St. Visalia residents should bring their own shovels to fill bags. For more information, call (559) 713-4428. Visalia residents with flooding concerns can call (559) 713-4403.

Webcam: China Peak

Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park

Staff writer Marc Benjamin contributed to this report. The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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