Another Pacific storm was set to hit California on Wednesday, bringing a threat of mudslides to the site of the deadliest wildfire in state history and a rare blizzard warning in the Sierra Nevada.
‘A major winter storm will hammer much of California through early Thursday,’ the National Weather Service said in a flash bulletin on Wednesday morning. ‘Blizzard conditions are expected for the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada.’
The same storm system is expected to hammer the Midwest and Northeast into the weekend, fueled by arctic air from a polar vortex.
An evacuation warning was in place into Thursday morning for Pulga, a canyon community in Butte County neighboring Paradise, which was virtually incinerated two months ago by the Camp Fire that killed 86 people and destroyed nearly 15,000 homes.
The NWS issued a flood watch for the county beginning late Wednesday afternoon.
Plows are seen working in South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday. The area is under a blizzard warning from Wednesday evening through Thursday
Tuesday’s storm already impacted I-80 near Truckee (above) but more snow is expected in the Sierra Nevada on Wednesday, with blizzard conditions forecast at higher elevations
This map shows cumulative rain and snowfall forecast in California through Thursday
By Friday the system is expected to move over the Rockies and northern Plains
By Saturday, forecasters predict the system will hammer the Great Lakes and Northeast
Snow and winter mix from the system is predicted to blanket New England by Sunday
‘If flooding occurs, this can quickly become a dangerous and life-threatening situation,’ the Butte County Sheriff’s Office warned.
The north could see the strongest storm of the year, with heavy rain in the San Francisco Bay Area leading to a widespread flash flood watch beginning in the afternoon.
Flood and high wind watches were scheduled for the Sacramento area, with the weather service warning that gusts could lead to power outages, downed trees and tough driving conditions.
A blizzard warning for much of the Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe was set to go into effect Wednesday night, with meteorologists predicting as much of five feet of snow in upper elevations and wind gusts of up to 100 mph on ridgetops.
Dangerous and potentially life-threatening conditions were expected at elevations above 7,000 feet, with high avalanche danger throughout the region.
A week of storms has left authorities concerned about the potential danger for thousands of people living in foothill and canyon areas devastated by last year’s wildfires.
Fortunately, there were no injuries when this vehicle spun out of control and flipped on an interstate overpass near Truckee on Tuesday. The area will see heavy snow on Wednesday
Highway 89 (above) around Emerald Bay is now closed due to unstable snow conditions. Officials advise against attempting to travel in the Sierra through Thursday
Cloud coverage over the US is seen on Wednesday afternoon, with the winter storm system moving in on California from the Pacific
Immense areas of the state were razed by wind-whipped flames, leaving hillsides bare of vegetation that could stabilize soil and prevent mudslides.
On Tuesday, several thousand people heeded a mandatory evacuation order in Santa Barbara County on the Central Coast, where last year a sudden debris flow swept through Montecito, killing 23 people and destroying 100 homes.
A mudslide closed a 4.4-mile section of section of Pacific Coast Highway just north of Malibu on Monday for several hours.
Los Angeles County authorities issued evacuation orders beginning Tuesday morning for some areas of the Woolsey Fire.
The blaze that broke out in November destroyed more than 1,500 homes and other buildings from Ventura County to Malibu and killed four people.
Daphne Moore was among the evacuees.
‘It’s a complete drag but it’s better than dying in a mud debris flow,’ she told KNBC-TV.
However, the rain that fell Tuesday wasn’t heavy enough to cause disaster and the county lifted the order on Tuesday evening. More rain was expected Wednesday but not enough to be a serious threat, officials said.
Some mandatory evacuations remained in the Malibu area of Los Angeles County and voluntary evacuations were in place for some parts of Ventura County.
Both were affected by November’s Woolsey Fire that destroyed more than 1,500 homes and killed four people.
A skiploader clears a river of mud that has flowed onto Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu on Monday. Mudslide fears in the area caused evacuations on Tuesday, but the orders were lifted
Buildings burn during the Woolsey Fire in November in Malibu, California. The area is now under threat from mudslides as a Pacific storm runs in
In the community of Bell Canyon in Ventura County, Paul Manion was busy filling sandbags.
‘It’s something we have to do. I mean, if the water comes, it comes,’ Manion told KABC-TV. ‘Everything around our house burned. All the houses around our house burned. But it’s the hillsides that we’re worried about.’
Others refused to leave.
In Malibu, sheriff’s deputies armed with clipboards went door-to-door at the high-risk Paradise Cove mobile home park. Julie Sturgess signed a declaration that she wouldn’t evacuate.
‘I have lived here since 1971, and there has been a lot of rain over the years,’ she told the Los Angeles Times.
Beaver Valenzuela told KABC-TV that he’s survived fiercer storms and wouldn’t leave until he was convinced there was more immediate danger.
‘I’m not going anywhere,’ he said.