The Latest: Storm damages famous tree on California coast
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on storms hitting the West (all times local):
Gusty winds during a recent storm broke a branch of the famous cypress tree on California’s northern coast.
The Pebble Beach Company said Friday that despite the damage, an arborist has recently examined the Lone Cypress and confirmed it’s “healthy and remains secure on its rocky perch.”
The tree, believed to be more than 250 years old, draws many visitors to the scenic 17-Mile Road on the Monterey Peninsula to take photographs of it.
The owner of the Pebble Beach golf links and resort registered a drawing of the tree as the company’s trademark in 1919.
The company said the tree has weathered storms and drought throughout its life and that the recent damage is a natural part of its evolution.
Storms heavily damaged roads to an alpine tourist destination high in Southern California’s San Jacinto Mountains and officials are discouraging people from visiting.
Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga says the storms damaged parts of roads leading to Idyllwild and other communities about 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, but access was not cut off.
Kasinga say crews were arriving Friday to begin repairs to State Routes 74 and 243 under an $8 million emergency contract.
A route combining surviving portions of the two mountain highways still connected the mountain communities to the world but authorities urged outsiders to stay away.
Highways were also damaged in the nearby San Bernardino Mountains, where ski resorts around Big Bear Lake have an abundance of snow.
Heavy snow is falling in California’s Sierra Nevada, making for a treacherous trek to the mountains for those hoping for a Presidents Day holiday weekend of skiing.
National Weather Service forecasters said Friday the storm could dump between 3 and 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) of fresh snow in a region where some ski resorts reported getting 3 feet (1 meter) of snow since Thursday morning.
Kevin Cooper, marketing director for Lake Tahoe TV, says it has snowed so much in recent weeks that cities are running out of places to put the snow.
Officials are urging people to avoid traveling and have issued an avalanche warning for the greater Lake Tahoe Area.
A California Highway Patrol officer posted a video on Facebook showing whiteout conditions on Interstate 80 at Donner Summit. The highway connecting California to Nevada has been closed.
Classes have been canceled in seven school districts in San Diego County following the intense storm that hit California.
The county’s Office of Education cites power outages, flooding, road closures and dangerous travel conditions as reasons for Friday’s closures.
The atmospheric river weather phenomenon that infused the storm with Pacific Ocean moisture stretching almost to Hawaii has moved on to Arizona but its effects continue in California.
The National Weather Service says the atmospheric river was a Category 3 on the new five-level scale created by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
The service says a measure of total atmospheric moisture over San Diego Thursday morning was a record for the fall-winter-spring season.
The Palomar astronomical observatory in north San Diego County recorded 10.1 inches (25.6 centimeters) of rain, its wettest day ever.
Scattered showers and snow are expected for an already soaked California, prompting authorities to issue a flood warning for coastal areas and a winter storm warning for mountainous regions.
Officials say Interstate 80 in the Sierra Nevada is closed Friday from the small community of Colfax to the Nevada border because of whiteout conditions. They say dangerous travel conditions will continue through early Sunday.
The area is expected to receive at least 3 feet (0.9 meters) of new snow.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, the westbound lanes of Highway 36 in the city of Novato were closed after a levee breached and flooded it. That complicated the commute for thousands of motorists.
Officials issued a flood warning lasting through Saturday for the community of Guerneville north of San Francisco because the Russian River surpassed flood stage overnight.
Authorities warn that mudslides are still possible even after a damaging storm moved through California.
April Newman, spokeswoman for Riverside County Fire Department, says crews will continue damage assessments Friday.
The powerful system unleashed rain, snow and wind across the U.S. West into Wyoming and Colorado.
In California, roads were washed away, people were trapped in rising floodwaters and debris flows destroyed homes. At least two deaths were reported: a man who was paddle-boarding down a surging storm channel in Escondido and a woman who suffered a heart attack while being rescued from rising waters in Corona.
Some evacuation warnings remain in place for neighborhoods near wildfire burn areas southeast of Los Angeles.