CA copes with rain, snow

State officials are keeping a close eye on waterways.

BY HEATHER MOYER | SACRAMENTO, Calif. | March 1, 2006

The threat of flooding in northern California may not be present Wednesday, but state officials are still keeping a close eye on waterways as more precipitation is predicted for later this week.

Heavy rainfall and high winds moved through the northern part of the state throughout much of the week, knocking down power lines and causing some minor localized flooding. A state spokesman said that the state has fared much better so far than it did earlier this year.

"The rivers are up to flood stage, but it's receding in between the storms," said Dale Chessey, spokesperson for the California Office of Emergency Services. "It's really strange weather right now. It'll come down in huge downpours, but then it just stops and subsides as the sun comes out. We were worried that the rain would just continue straight on without stopping, but everything is holding up fine now. It's nothing like it was earlier this year."

In late 2005 and earlier 2006, torrential downpours caused flooding and mudslides in many northern Calif. counties. The flooding prompted a federal disaster declaration for 29 counties - with 10 of those counties receiving declarations allowing individual aid to residents and business owners.

The only areas of concern from the current rain are Napa and Sonoma, added Chessey, where some vineyards are dealing with standing water. Yesterday's weather also included several tornado warnings, but there were no reports of any tornado touchdowns.

More rain is predicted for Thursday and Friday, but the bigger concern is a major winter storm predicted to start tonight in the Sierra Mountains. The National Weather Service has posted Winter Storm Advisories and Warnings for more than 10 counties overnight. Forecasters are predicting between 14 and 20 inches of snow for some mountainous areas. That has Chessey and other officials feeling a bit more positive, though.

"We're looking forward to that, we don't see that as a bad thing because we actually do need the snow pack," he explained.

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