Update 10 a.m. Wednesday:
Gloria Rodriguez, a Caltrans spokeswoman, said that the agency is working with a goal of reopening Highway 41 by late afternoon Wednesday so it can be used by evening commuters.
A geologist with the agency is at the rock-slide site and has identified more boulders that are at risk of falling and must be removed. Dump trucks, backhoes and tractors will arrive at the site this morning for the excavation and cleanup work.
“Those large boulders will be a challenge for us,” Rodriguez said. She said Caltrans’ goal is to have the highway reopened sometime between 4 and 5 p.m.
A fast-moving Pacific storm that reached the central San Joaquin Valley early Tuesday dropped more than three-quarters of an inch of rain in Fresno and Madera, and caused a major rock slide on Highway 41 and flooding in some areas, the National Weather Service said.
The storm also brought much-needed snow to the Sierra Nevada.
The rain also apparently caused a rock slide just before noon on Highway 41 and Road 406 south of Coarsegold. Debris forced traffic in both directions to come to a stop.
As a result, detours were set up. The California Highway Patrol reported that the northbound lane is closed at Highway 145, and the southbound lane is closed at Road 200. Both lanes initially were expected to reopen around 3 p.m., but rocks continued to fall on the highway. The CHP reported that the highway would be closed through Tuesday night.
A second, less severe slide occurred near Shaver Lake, Fresno County road maintenance manager Randy Ishii said. It was reported in the late morning, but crews cleared it within two hours.
The rain continued through the day before the front exited to the east. Wednesday and Thursday are forecast to be dry, with fog in the morning hours. Another storm is expected Friday.
The latest storm brings Fresno’s rain total up to 8.55 inches since July – already more than the season totals for 2013-14 (4.81 inches), 2012-13 (5.67), 2014-15 (6.61) and 2011-12 (8.15). Normally, Fresno gets 11.5 inches for a full season.
Fresno city spokesman Mark Standriff said that public works employees have had to repair several pumps in the drainage system, but no flooding was reported. All of the roads and underpasses remain open.
A stoplight stopped working at First Street and Shaw Avenue near the Fashion Fair Mall around 12:30 p.m., causing major traffic issues at midday in one of the busiest stretches of road in the city.
In Fresno County, Ishii’s crews worked hard to clear roads in flood-prone areas. Localized flooding was reported near National and Minnewawa avenues, as well as Copper and Armstrong avenues.
Storm crews drove around the county searching for problems, but Ishii said they need help. Anyone who spots any flooding is asked to call 559-600-4240.
In Clovis, an accident snarled traffic on Barstow Avenue between Clovis and Sunnyside avenues around noon.
Madera County Public Works Deputy Director Brad Phillips said Avenue 10 from Road 40 ½ to Brickyard Drive was closed due to flooding.
24-hour rain totals
Fresno: 0.76 of an inch