A potent mix of rain, snow and wind blew through Northern California on Sunday, knocking out power, snarling highway traffic in the Sierra and delaying holiday air travelers.
Christmas could bring more of the same. While the region can expect mostly sunny skies today, it will turn cloudy Tuesday morning, and there's a 40 percent chance of showers later in the day, said Carl Swanberg, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
Area police and emergency crews spent much of Sunday dealing with fallen trees and scattered power outages. Flood warnings were issued for parts of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, and Deer Creek in southeast Sacramento County was reported at flood stage Sunday evening. The California Highway Patrol reported at least two instances of road flooding in the region.
About an inch of rain fell in greater Sacramento, Swanberg said.
"This was overall a stronger series of storms," he said.
He said a winter storm advisory was in effect until late Sunday for much of the Northern Sierra above 4,000 feet.
Up to 2 feet of snow was expected. Chain controls and intermittent shutdowns were reported on the major highways heading into the mountains. Citing "numerous spinouts," the CHP closed westbound Interstate 80 in the Truckee area Sunday evening; the eastbound lanes were open but trucks were being turned back at Applegate.
At Squaw Valley, three snowboarders touched off an avalanche, causing minor injuries to two skiers. Neither skier a 39-year-old woman, who was treated at the resort's clinic, and a 16-year-old boy, who went to a Truckee hospital with a shoulder injury was buried in the snow.
More than 100 staff and volunteers, assisted by avalanche rescue dogs, scoured the adjacent slopes for additional victims, but there were none.
In addition to the rain, Sacramentans also had to contend with ferocious gusts of wind as much as 53 mph at Mather Park near North Highlands and 50 mph in Fair Oaks.
There was also a series of lightning strikes reported Sunday evening northeast of San Jose by the National Weather Service.
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District reported several dozen power outages, affecting 3,200 customers from Galt to North Highlands. But by early evening, fewer than 400 customers were without power, the utility reported.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. also responded to power outages throughout Northern California.
More than 3,000 customers lost power in Plumas County, some 1,500 in Shasta County, 500 in Chico and more than 1,200 in Stockton. There were also numerous outages in the Bay Area.
Trees were reported down in Elk Grove, Lodi and elsewhere, but no major incidents were reported.
Numerous flights were delayed at Sacramento International Airport on one of the season's busiest travel days.
Airport spokeswoman Karen Doron said the delays were all caused by weather in other cities, not Sacramento.
A pair of early-afternoon flights to Denver were running three hours late.
George Cline, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said rainfall for December was running above normal but was unlikely to set any records.
So far, Sacramento has accumulated 4.72 inches of rain in December nearly twice the historical average. The wettest December ever was 13.4 inches in 1852.
Sacramento's rainy season, which typically produces 6.36 inches of rain to this point, has reached 10.39 inches and climbing.