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Be on alert: Storm bringing winds, rain, snow, even thunderstorms; flood warnings in effect

Rain, gusty winds and flood warnings are continuing Thursday in the valley after Wednesday’s rain totals shattered daily records in Sacramento.

Flooding and snow have burdened or blocked lanes of major highways in Northern California. A snowslide is blocking Highway 50 in both directions at Echo Summit, Caltrans tweeted just before 11 a.m. Traffic is being held in both directions by Caltrans as crews work for avalanche control.

Also just before 11 a.m., Caltrans said Interstate 5 between Maxwell Road and Highway 20 in Colusa County will be closed indefinitely due to flooding.

National Weather Service has extended its flood warning in place through at least 8 p.m. Thursday in the Sacramento Valley, NWS meteorologist Hannah Chandler-Cooley said.

At 9:15 a.m., NWS Sacramento issued a flash flood warning for parts of El Dorado, Calaveras and Amador counties through 12:15 p.m. due to heavy rain brought on by thunderstorms.

NWS reported 2.11 inches of rain at the Sacramento Executive Airport on Wednesday, close to double the previous record of 1.22 inches set Feb. 13, 1979. Sacramento also received 1.94 inches downtown, breaking the previous daily record of 1.61 (1926).

Wind and downed trees are still causing power outages across Northern California, as more than 41,000 of PG&E’s customers started Thursday without power. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. outage maps showed roughly 7,000 without power in Redding and surrounding areas early Thursday morning a day after snow and wind caused outages in Shasta County.

SMUD’s outage map said about 2,000 customers were without power as of 11:50 a.m. with at least 25 outages reported.

Minor power outages were also reported for a time overnight for PG&E customers in El Dorado Hills, Lincoln and Vallejo, as well as in SMUD’s territory in Sacramento County.

Sacramento will see up to another inch of rain Thursday, Chandler-Cooley said, and 1 to 2 inches total are expected between Thursday and the weekend.

With a wind advisory in place through 6 a.m. Friday, Chandler-Cooley said gusts between 40 and 50 mph are possible in Sacramento. Gusts approaching 50 mph were recorded at Folsom Lake and in Fair Oaks on Wednesday, NWS said in a tweet.

There is also a chance of isolated tornadoes in the valley, with the highest likelihood between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., NWS forecasts show.

Downpours on Wednesday led Sacramento County to open three sandbag stations for residents in need, and officials kept a close eye on flood-vulnerable spots like Arcade Creek and Discovery Park.

Minor flooding along freeway lanes, ramps and local streets have been reported by California Highway Patrol and Caltrans, but no major flood incidents were reported as of Thursday morning.

“We always tell people that with extra rain, localized street flooding could occur again,” Chandler-Cooley said. “We ask them not to drive through any water on the roads. You never know how deep it could be.”

Wednesday’s rainfall was brought on by an atmospheric river system, but Chandler-Cooley said a second, separate system is responsible for conditions Thursday and Friday in the Sacramento region.

A winter storm warning in the Sierra Nevada range remains in place through 4 a.m. Saturday, with chain controls still expected along major highways.

NWS Reno reports snow levels will “sharply drop” by early Thursday afternoon, continuing to affect travel through the mountains.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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