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Massive storm soaking NorCal

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POSTED December 15, 2016 8:53 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — One of the strongest rainstorms of the season hit Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, with a small town in the North Bay receiving nearly seven inches of rain over the last 24-hour period, forecasters said.
More than 100 flights in and out of San Francisco International Airport were cancelled and about 360 were delayed for minutes to hours because of weather concerns, said Brian Horne, airport duty manager.
Venado, a remote former lumber town west of Healdsburg, was hit the hardest as the storm moved from the North Bay into San Francisco and the Central Coast.
Some creeks in those counties were over flood stages, and other areas were poised to get a good soaking later.
By nightfall, San Francisco had recorded more than an inch of rain over a 24-hour period, with areas further north seeing 2 to 4 inches and 5 to nearly 7 inches recorded in some areas of the Sierra Nevada.
Winds gusted to nearly 100 mph over the ridgetops of the Sierra, downing power lines in the Reno area and slowing traffic ahead of a major winter storm off the Pacific.
A winter storm warning remains in effect through 4 a.m. Friday around Lake Tahoe, where 1 to 3 feet of snow is expected at the upper elevations. Flood watches and warnings have been issued for many streams and rivers along the Nevada-California line.
The National Weather Service says winds gusted to 97 mph at the Mount Rose Ski Resort on the edge of Reno and reached 91 mph in the Washoe Valley between Reno and Carson City, where travel on Interstate 580 is closed to high-profile trucks and campers.
The storm was beginning to move into Southern California, which has seen barely a drop of rain all winter. The National Weather Service forecast anywhere from a half-inch to 3 inches of rain in the region through Friday morning.
Flash flood watches and warnings were issued for areas up and down the state, especially those where brushfires had denuded hillsides and mountain slopes.
A half-inch of rain per hour would be enough to send those hillsides tumbling and the storm was expected to dump that and more in some areas, forecasters said.
In Los Angeles, fire stations were handing out sandbags.
“We’re concerned about mudslides and flooding,” city fire spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said.
Get out quickly if “things go bad,” she urged residents of foothill and burned areas. “Don’t take the risk of being trapped in a mudslide.”
High winds also were expected, gusting to 75 mph at times in southern mountains and 60 mph in desert valleys.
The storm wasn’t a surprise in the northern half of the state, which has been downright soggy this year. Forecasters say San Francisco’s 12 days of rain in October were the most in a single month in more than a century.
San Francisco received 2.43 inches of precipitation in October, which was more than double the total from a year earlier.
Drivers were urged to take it easy on slick roads.
California Highway Patrol Officer Andrew Barclay said drivers should avoid driving through standing water and losing control.
“My biggest suggestion right now is slow down and have patience,” Barclay said in Marin. “It’s going to take longer than normal to get home tonight, don’t rush.”
In Healdsburg, antique dealer Greg Sheldon said driving conditions were difficult there.
“Some of our streets are flooded here. I had two feet of water in one of my lanes,” said Sheldon, who works at Antique Harvest. “There’s just tons of water coming off, the ground is so saturated right now. Every field is a big lake.”
Chris Daniels, who also works in Healdsburg and lives nearby in Windsor, said she was worried about getting home Thursday night.
“I have a creek behind my house. It’s just about ready to go over our road,” she said. “I’m just hoping I can get back into my house”
In the Sierra Nevada, winds gusted to nearly 100 mph at times over ridgetops early Thursday, posing a risk of toppling trees weakened by drought. A winter storm warning remained in effect through 4 a.m. Friday around Lake Tahoe, where 1 to 3 feet of snow was expected at the upper elevations.

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