Evacuation orders as storm hits California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A powerful storm which descended on California yesterday threatened flooding in the entire San Francisco Bay Area and areas stripped bare by devastating wildfires.

The storm that began moving in Friday night was expected to bring up to four inches of rain in some areas, winds gusting to 80 mph in the mountains, 10-foot waves and several feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada and other mountain ranges.

The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch through yesterday morning for the entire San Francisco Bay Area and much of the Central Coast.

“Heavy rainfall over a short amount of time will likely overwhelm storm drains and result in flooding of low-lying urban areas. Also, expect rapid rises on small streams and creeks” which could overflow, the weather service warned.

Evacuations were ordered or recommended for many areas of Northern and Southern California that were hit by wildfires in recent months.

Authorities fear that an inch of rain an hour could send fire debris, mud and boulders sluicing down denuded hillsides.

In Malibu, where a fire last year destroyed many homes, Vidette Bell had her front door and garage barricaded with sandbags even before a previous storm hit.

“I paid USD3,000 to have these sandbags delivered,” Bell told KCAL-TV on Friday. “I didn’t want to have my house survive a fire and then get invaded with mud.”

In the Holy Jim fire area southeast of Los Angeles, where an August wildfire scoured tens of thousands of acres in the Cleveland National Forest, volunteers using heavy equipment removed debris and deepened a creek bed to help prevent flooding.