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UPDATE: Flooding slows traffic on major area highways; flash flood warning issued

Streets were flooded across the Sacramento region as a second day of rain battered the area on Wednesday, December 3, 2014. This photo is from the Curtis Park neighborhood.
Streets were flooded across the Sacramento region as a second day of rain battered the area on Wednesday, December 3, 2014. This photo is from the Curtis Park neighborhood. Sacramento

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for El Dorado, Placer and Nevada counties, effective until 8 p.m., due to thunderstorms in the area.

As of 4:15 p.m., the Weather Service reported that 1 inch of rain had fallen in the past hour over portions of the three counties and additional rainfall amounts of up to 1.5 inches are possible. Affected areas include Rocklin, Loomis, Newcastle, Lake of the Pines, Applegate and Alta Sierra.

The state Department of Transportation and city of Public Works Department also reported street flooding on roadways throughout the Sacramento area affecting the evening commute.

Deanna Shoopman, a Caltrans spokeswoman, said all major highways in the Sacramento area were experiencing flooding during the late afternoon due to heavy rains. She said crews were working as fast as they could to clear drains and make sure pumps were working. About 3 p.m., four cars were reported floating in water on the Capital City Freeway in the area of Fulton Avenue, she said.

“The water is deep,” Shoopman said. “It up to sedan car doors.”

Traffic also was snarled as the evening commute got underway due to an overturned big-rig with two trailers on southbound Interstate 5 near Twin Cities Road, she said.

The California Highway Patrol’s traffic incident website reported flooding at numerous points along Interstate 80 from Sacramento to the Auburn area. Vehicles were reported stalled in water on eastbound I-80 at Watt Avenue. Traffic was reduced to one lane. Northbound lanes of Watt Avenue also were closed from about 3:30 to 5 p.m. due to roadway flooding at Roseville Road.

Linda Tucker, spokeswoman for the city of Sacramento’s Public Works Department, said the city received 275 weather-related calls between 7 a.m. and about 4:15 p.m. Most came in before 8:30 a.m. and involved street flooding due to storm drains clogged with leaves. Then when the wind hit in the early afternoon, the department received about 40 calls reporting down tree limbs.

She said the central city was particularly hard-hit by street flooding as the evening commute began.

The storm also caused numerous power outages. Sacramento Municipal Utility District crews were working to determine the cause of a power outage Wednesday afternoon that affected nearly 10,600 customers in the Carmichael area.

The outage occurred at 2:56 p.m. Chris Capra, a SMUD public information officer, said it involved a substation and a high voltage line. Power was restored at 3:45 p.m., but Capra said the cause had not been determined.

The Carmichael outage was the largest among several that affected customers districtwide Wednesday. Capra said most were fuse outages, typically caused by something like a palm frond hitting a line or lines slapping together in the wind.

In one instance Wednesday, a tree fell into a line in the Oak Park area, knocking out power to 3,000 customers, and a truck ran into a power pole in the Elder Creek area, causing an outage affecting about 1,300 customers.

Capra said SMUD increased staffing in anticipation of the storm, noting that 18 trouble-shooters were in the field along with six line crews.

The National Weather Service had warned of that areas of Placer and El Dorado counties affected by the King Fire were especially vulnerable to flash flooding and debris flows.

As of about 4:30 p.m., Jennifer Chapman, spokeswoman for the Eldorado National Forest, said residents in the area of White Meadow Road northeast of Pollock Pines, an area where homes were burned during the King Fire, reported mud and debris on the roadway. She said a Forest Service storm patrol was evaluating the situation.

Most of the burn area is sparsely populated, and Chapman said it is dangerous to send crews into those areas when it is raining. If there is a break in the weather Thursday, she said, storm patrols will be sent out to assess the area.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

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