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California storm brings power outages, shuts down highway

January 8, 2019
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Workers with Allteck, a power line contractor, work to restore power, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, to a neighborhood served by Puget Sound Energy in Auburn, Wash. Tens of thousands of people remained without power Monday after windstorms struck parts of Washington state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Utility crews restored power to thousands of people Monday and mopped up the damage from a winter storm that swept through Northern California, as they braced for more stormy weather later this week.

A new wet system is expected in the region on Tuesday night that won’t be as intense but two more powerful storms are expected over the weekend, National Weather Service forecaster Emily Heller said.

Strong winds and downed trees knocked out electricity for nearly 90,000 customers across the Sacramento region Sunday night. Toppled utility poles and trees prompted the temporary closure of a major highway.

By Monday night, about 1,800 customers were still without power, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District said.

Spokeswoman Lindsay Van Laningham said the utility was getting ready for more potential work later this week.

“We’ll have all hands on deck for crews to repair damages. We are ready for it, and we’re sort of mopping up from today’s storm and damage,” she said.

In Oregon and Washington, thousands of people remained without power after windstorms struck parts the northwest over the weekend.

Interstate 80 from Placer County in California to Nevada’s Washoe County reopened Monday.

Officials shut down the highway Sunday after the snowstorm reached the Lake Tahoe area as weekend visitors were leaving.

Over three days 4.5 feet (1.37 meters) of snow accumulated at the summit of Mammoth Mountain, 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada resort said Monday. More than a foot (30 centimeters) fell in the upper elevations around Tahoe, including 19 inches (48 centimeters) at Squaw Valley.

Up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain fell in some Northern California coastal and valley areas, while mountain communities got heavy snow.

In Southern California, light to moderate rain fell early Monday as a second system followed heavy Saturday night downpours that unleashed massive mud flows from the fire-scarred Santa Monica Mountains onto Pacific Coast Highway.

Cleanup work kept about 13 miles (21 kilometers) of the scenic highway closed from western Malibu to Ventura County. After two days, the road reopened Monday night.

While the latest rain was modest, powerful winds swept the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles early Monday because of a so-called mountain wave — southwesterly winds rising up and over the San Gabriel Mountains and then plunging down into the high desert. The National Weather Service said a 78 mph (125 kph) gust was recorded at Lake Palmdale.

In the northwest, about 18,000 Puget Sound Energy customers in Oregon and Washington remained without power Monday night. Crews had restored power to more than 311,000 customers since the height of the storm. Seattle City Light had only about 60 customers without power as of Monday night.

In Oregon the lights were back on for most people.

The storm caused Alaska Airlines to ground all its flights between 4:20 a.m. and 5:15 a.m. Sunday after a power outage in the Seattle area, where its operations are based. Twenty seven flights were delayed and five were canceled.

The National Weather Service reported winds included gusts of more than 60 mph (95 kph) at the storm’s peak Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

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Workers with Allteck, a power line contractor, work to restore power, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, to a neighborhood served by Puget Sound Energy in Auburn, Wash. Tens of thousands of people remained without power Monday after windstorms struck parts of Washington state over the weekend. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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