Clovis News

Rain, wind topple power lines, trees across Valley

7:27 p.m.: Interstate 5 over the Grapevine has been reopened to traffic, the California Department of Transportation reports.

6 p.m.: The California Highway Patrol has opened Highway 168, which was closed about 2 p.m. today due to a snow slide at the Sierra Summit ski area.

Shortly before 6 p.m., the CHP began escorting drivers down the mountain to Shaver Lake. At that point, drivers will be allowed to travel to the Valley on their own, the CHP said.

5:07 p.m.: Barstow Avenue through the California State University, Fresno, campus will remain closed through at least 5 p.m., and possibly later, as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews repair two damaged utility poles, a university spokesman said.

Barstow is closed between Chestnut and Willow avenues. Motorists and university employees should avoid that route when leaving campus, said spokesman Tom Uribes.

Thursday is the first day of spring semester classes and Uribes said students should allow extra time for increased traffic around campus and potential weather-related delays as another storm rolls over Fresno.

4:30 p.m.:Snowfall closed Highway 168 at Sierra Summit about 2 p.m. today, the California Highway Patrol said.

CHP officer Graciela Torres Torres said she did not know when the highway would reopen.

3:30 p.m.: This week’s storms have flooded Highway 269, closing the north-south road just north of Huron.

Caltrans closed Highway 269, also known as Lassen Avenue, about 8 p.m. Tuesday, said Gerald Ford, Huron city manager.

Heavy rain occasionally will overflow the Arroyo Pasajero, a creek flowing east from the Diablo Range on the west side of the Valley and across state Highway 269.

Flooding last closed Highway 269 near the southwest Fresno County town about four years ago, Ford said.

3:30 p.m.:

Wind gusts up to 68 miles per hour accompanied a storm that blew through the Valley today.

Castle Airport in Atwater recorded a wind gust of 68 mph at 1:50 p.m. and Merced Municipal Airport had a gust of 60 mph about an hour earlier, said Gary Sanger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford.

“The storm moved through there and slammed them,” Sanger said.

A wind gust of 43 mph was recorded at the Fresno Yosemite International airport about noon.

On the west side of the Valley, Kettleman Hills had a gust of 54 mph, Avenal recorded one of 52 mph and Lemoore Naval Air Station had a gust of 48 mph late this morning.

3:25 p.m.:

A wind advisory on the east side and a high-wind warning on the west side of the Valley will remain in effect until 4 p.m. today, the National Weather Service in Hanford said.

A winter storm warning in the Sierra has been extended until 4 a.m. Friday.

2:55 p.m.: More than 13,000 PG&E customers in Fresno County were without power at 2:45 p.m. today because of downed power lines.

The heavy rain and winds have toppled power lines and damaged poles and transformers, causing the outages, said Jeff Smith, a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesman.

2:25 p.m.: Interstate 5 is fully closed over the Grapevine, largely because of wet snow, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Northbound Highway 41 is closed at Fish Camp, just south of the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park, because of snow. Badger Pass Road is closed because of several downed trees.

1:47 p.m.: Southbound Interstate 5 over the Grapevine is closed, the California Highway Patrol reported.

1:05 p.m.: Today's wet, windy storm could leave a half-inch of rain in Fresno, the National Weather Service said. Fresno should receive moderate rainfall all day, which could add another 0.30 of an inch to the 0.26 recorded at Fresno-Yosemite International Airport in the last 24 hours.

The rain is expected to wind down tonight and resume Thursday afternoon, weather service meterologist Modesto Vasquez said. Strong winds are expected to return Thursday and a wind advisory is likely.

In Tulare County, rain has pooled alongside and flooded some rural roads, Jim May, the county’s flood control manager, said.

“There are a few places that have water across the road,” he said.

Maintenance crews are placing warning signs on county roads where necessary, May said.

He advised motorists to slow down and heed the warning signs.

12:31 p.m.: Increasing winds around midday toppled trees in Fresno, including one at Ashlan and Chestnut avenues and another at Sierra Avenue west of Palm Avenue.

Both trees are blocking traffic, said Brian Russell, the city’s street maintenance manager.

About six trees in Fresno are down because of rain and winds, he said.

Barstow Avenue north of California State University, Fresno, is closed because of damage to a power pole, a university spokesman said.

The avenue is closed between Chestnut and Willow avenues.

Pacific Gas & Electric crews are en route to repair the pole, the spokesman said.

12:18 p.m.: Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has reported several power outages:

Fresno: 12 outages affecting between 500 and 4,999 customers in an area from Shields to Dakota avenues and from Blackstone to Maroa avenues.

Clovis: five outages affecting between 500 to 4,999 customers near Highway 168 and Sierra Avenue.

Auberry: About 50 customers affected.

Sanger: Between 50 and 500 customers affected.

Riverdale: Less than 50 customers affected.

The power company said it is working to restore service.

Noon: Trees and power lines are down at several places in Fresno County, according to the California Highway Patrol:

-- Fancher Avenue at McKinley Avenue: lines down

-- Rainbow Avenue at Riverbend Avenue: tree in road

-- Belmont Avenue at Bethel Avenue: tree in road

-- Dakota Avenue at McCall Avenue: tree in road

-- Floral Avenue at Bethel Avenue: a pole about to fall in the road

-- Nebraska Avenue at Fowler Avenue: several poles down

-- Shields Avenue at DeWolf Avenue: lines down

11:20 a.m.: Several roads are partially blocked because of storm-related damage, the California Highway Patrol reported. Power lines are down at Manning Avenue and Solano Avenue, west of San Joaquin. A large tree is blocking part of Shields Avenue at Bethel Avenue, east of Fresno.

9:25 a.m.: A high-wind advisory is in effect through 4 p.m. today in the central San Joaquin Valley, according to the National Weather Service in Hanford.

The Valley faces possible thunderstorms today, along with winds of 20 to 30 mph and gusts of about 40 mph.

The winds can lead to property damage and downed power lines, the weather service warned, and can cause problems for tall-profile vehicles.

Isolated flooding has been reported in several areas, including Huron Avenue at Derrick Boulevard and Highway 198 at Shell Road, both near Coalinga.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. reported that 49 customers were without power in central Fresno between Shields and Dakota avenues and Blackstone and Maroa avenues.

An outage Tuesday night affecting more than 85 customers in Madera Ranchos was repaired.

11:40 p.m. Tuesday: Intense rainfall the rest of the week could create flooding in the Valley, which already is saturated after several days of storms, officials said Tuesday.

So far, breaks between storms have allowed the rain to percolate into the ground, resulting in only minor flooding problems -- most caused by debris in drains, officials said.

But storms today and Thursday could drop about an inch of rain in parts of the Valley, said Gary Sanger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford.

"If we have significant rain, we'll experience significance runoff," said Greg Farley, Madera County engineer. He advised Valley residents in low-lying areas to protect their homes with sandbags.

So far, the rain is being absorbed into the ground despite saturation from the storms, said Bob Van Wyk, general manager for the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District.

"The type of rainfall that we're getting at this point, we think we can handle it," Van Wyk said.

Ponding basins also helped, said Andrew Benelli, Visalia public works director.

"They were just about dry at the start of the storm season," Benelli said.

As the storms continue, however, a big concern is that the ground will become so wet that trees could be more vulnerable to toppling in strong winds, said Patrick Wiemiller, Fresno's public works director. This week's storms have caused only a few downed trees in Fresno, he said.

A weather-related outage knocked out power at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport and the surrounding area about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, affecting 15,719 PG&E customers, said Jeff Smith, company spokesman. Power was restored about 3:20 p.m, he said.

One flight was canceled because of the outage, airport spokeswoman Vikkie Calderon said.

More than 85 homes in Madera were also without power Tuesday night due to poles and transformers collapsing from the severe winds. The poles on Road 36 at Avenue 15 were knocked over about 11 a.m. Tuesday.

PG&E began working to restore the lines Tuesday, hoping to have the lines repaired by tonight, PG&E spokesperson J.D. Guidi said.

Most Valley cities on Tuesday received about three-tenths of inch of rain or less.

Rain remains in the forecast for the Valley through Friday. Highs will be in the mid-50s, and lows will be in the low to mid-40s.

Tuesday's storm brought 0.13 of inch of rain to Fresno as of 4 p.m. Merced and Lemoore each had 0.30, and Hanford and Visalia each had 0.31.

The seasonal rainfall for Fresno is now 5.08 inches, nearly a half-inch above the normal-to-date total of 4.63.

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