Friday’s wild weather will give way to scattered showers Saturday before the third and final storm in the current series of systems arrives.
The National Weather Service office in Hanford issued a warning at 3 p.m. Friday that a line of thunderstorms was moving north along the Sierra foothills from La Grange east of Modesto to Fresno. Hail and winds gusting to 30 mph were possible in that storm line, the NWS said.
A flood advisory also was posted into Friday afternoon for central Fresno, Madera and Tulare counties, the weather service said. People living near creeks and streams were particularly susceptible. The threat was to expire by 4 p.m.
The overnight storm dropped about 0.08 inches of rainfall in the Fresno area. In neighboring cities, the total was 0.15 for Madera, 0.07 for Merced, 0.14 for Hanford and 0.27 for Visalia.
One road closed in Fresno County while another reopened. Highway 269 between Huron and Highway 198 was closed about 3 p.m. Friday by Caltrans because of flooding. But Fresno County road workers reopened Los Gatos Road and South Derrick Avenue west of Coalinga, which was shut down by bridge issues last week.
Friday’s storm system blew into Kern County so fast that cold air got trapped in mountain valleys. The result was snow in Wofford Heights, Bodfish and Lake Isabella.
Drivers who were unprepared for rain-slick streets were involved in several minor crashes in the Fresno area, including one in which a truck spun out on southbound Highway 99 at the Highway 180 transition. The California Highway Patrol quickly cleared the roadway.
A winter storm warning is in place in the Sierra from Yosemite National Park to Tulare County until 10 a.m. Saturday. A foot of snow was expected at 5,000 feet elevation and up to two feet above 7,000 feet.
Once showers end Saturday morning, there will be a brief period of drying out on Saturday afternoon before storm No. 3 arrives in the evening.
“This final storm in the series will be a little wetter and a little colder and take a little longer to move through the Golden State,” the NWS said in its forecast discussion.
Rain and snow will fall mostly Sunday afternoon and evening, the NWS said. By Monday morning, snow levels will be down to 2,000 feet, meaning tops of foothills on the east side could be dusted in white.
No one should attempt to drive to Mammoth Lake or farther north in the eastern Sierra on Highway 395 on Sunday due to blizzard conditions. Said the weather service: “Expect hazardous travel conditions due to snow-covered roads and periods of lower visibility from wind-driven snow. ... Travel may become impossible Sunday.”
The storms come to an end later Monday, and dense fog returns Tuesday as drying conditions return. Fog will dominate early mornings and late nights in the central San Joaquin Valley for much of next week.
Flood hits cabins
Central California was not the only place with wild weather on Friday. More than 20 people escaped injury when a flood swept cabins and vehicles down a coastal canyon near Santa Barbara.
A swollen creek lifted five cabins off their foundations at midmorning and swept 15 vehicles down El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara County, fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.
Firefighters rescued one person from a vehicle and another person got out of another vehicle on their own, he said. Neither was harmed.
About 20 people stuck in the canyon were extricated uninjured from a private campground above a state beach about 115 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Zaniboni said.
By early afternoon the latest storm system had dumped more than 5 inches of rain in Refugio Pass in the Santa Ynez Mountains just to the northwest of El Capitan Canyon.
Throughout the day, forecasters issued a flurry of flash-flood warnings and lower level advisories as the storm moved from north to south down the length of California with high rates of rainfall.
“Storm #2 packing some punch,” the Los Angeles-area National Weather Service office wrote.
In Northern California, a section of state highway flooded in Sonoma County and water rose to the wheel hubs of cars along low-lying streets in and around Santa Cruz.
Runoff and rockslides in the Santa Monica Mountains west of Los Angeles forced the California Highway Patrol to close all canyon roads in the Malibu area.
Forecasters warned of potential debris flows from wildfire burn scars in Southern California.
The mountains of Southern California also have been accumulating snow on peaks that were barren in years of drought.
Along the coast, big surf was rolling ashore, and forecasters said waves could build to 30 feet on the Central Coast.
As of Thursday night, downtown Los Angeles had received 9.82 inches of rain since the start of the water year on Oct. 1, nearly 4 inches above normal to date and well above the 3.76 inches that fell in the same period a year earlier.
The Associated Press contributed