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Windblown dust hits valley towns ahead of rainstorm
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FRESNO (AP) — Windblown dust is causing zero visibility in parts of California’s Central Valley.

Forecaster Dan Harty of the National Weather Service says that gusts ahead of an advancing rain storm hit over 40 mph Thursday in places such as Merced and Bakersfield.

Harty, of the National Weather Service, says the storms already battering parts of Northern California with rain and snow should move into the Central Valley late Thursday.

Harty says he expects rain to fall in the Central Valley throughout the night.

He says thunderstorms are possible early Friday accompanied by lighter winds.

Sgt. Joe Grubbs of the Bakersfield Police Department says brown-out conditions caused six car accidents; he reports no major injuries.


GLENDORA RAISE STORM ALERT LEVEL NEAR BURN AREA: GLENDORA . (AP) — The city of Glendora has called for the mandatory evacuation of homes near the Colby Fire burn area as a powerful storm heads toward Southern California.

The city on the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains east of Los Angeles announced Thursday it would raise its alert level from orange to red starting at 10 p.m. Thursday. The move shifts evacuations from a suggestion to an order.

The Colby Fire burned 1,900 acres on the steep slopes above the cities of Glendora and Azusa in mid-January.

A storm last month unleashed a mud flow through a residential property.


NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S RUSSIAN RIVER FORECAST TO FLOOD: GUERNEVILLE (AP) — Sonoma County authorities are recommending hundreds of people evacuate the lowest lying areas near the Russian River, which is projected to start overflowing overnight.

Federal flood forecaster Alan Haynes says the Russian River is expected to exceed flood stage at 3 a.m. Friday and that the peak of the flooding will occur by 10 a.m.

He says moderate flooding is expected to affect numerous businesses and homes in the lowest sections of Guerneville and Monte Rio.

Sonoma County spokeswoman Christin Williams says authorities are recommending people in up to 300 homes evacuate.

Forecasters are also warning of minor flooding along the Sacramento River in Tehama County and another tributary, Cache Creek, in Yolo County.


POWERFUL STORM CLOSES HIGHWAYS IN CALIFORNIA: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Several highways have been closed as a powerful storm churning down California brought sideways sheets of rain, whiteout snowstorms and muddy slides into traffic.

Cars on some streets in San Bruno and Daly City just south of San Francisco were windshield high in flooding Thursday. California Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Dinger says Highway 5, the state’s critical north-south thruway, was closed in both directions near Weed, in Northern California, due to flooding.

Sierra Nevada mountain passes including Tioga, near Yosemite, as well as Sonora, Ebbetts and Monitor were closed because of heavy snow and avalanche danger. Some may remain closed for the winter.

Commuters driving south from Marin to San Francisco were squeezed into just one lane as Highway 101 flooded at a low point near wetlands and the bay.


APPROACHING STORM SCRUBS CALIFORNIA ROCKET LAUNCH: VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE (AP) — An approaching storm has delayed the launch of a U.S. defense satellite from California’s central coast.

An Atlas V rocket carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office was scheduled to lift off Thursday from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

However, the launch was postponed to Friday night because of concerns that the storm might bring rain, heavy clouds, gusty winds and even lightning.

Strong gales and sheets of rain from the storm knocked out electricity, flooded freeways and toppled trees in Northern California earlier Thursday.