The Latest: Storms improve California drought situation
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on California storms (all times local):
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows improved conditions in California after a series of storms.
The update released Thursday shows just over 92 percent of the state ranges from abnormally dry to some level of drought, mostly of moderate intensity.
Extreme drought is now limited to a small area just south of the Oregon border.
At the start of the year, that designation had applied to parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties west of Los Angeles. But those areas are now at lower drought levels.
The data is valid as of Tuesday, and the Drought Monitor says there may be additional improvement because of continuing heavy precipitation since then.
Authorities say a Northern California pedestrian who jumped into the street to dodge a falling tree was struck and killed by a van.
The California Highway Patrol says the accident occurred while the pedestrian and driver were looking at downed power lines and awaiting the arrival of fire crews at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in Mill Valley about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of San Francisco.
The CHP says the two men tried to flee to safety when they heard a tree overhead crack after it was hit with a strong gust of wind. The pedestrian jumped in front of the van as the motorist accelerated forward.
The CHP hasn’t released the names of either man. It’s at least the sixth death caused by storms this week.
California’s two largest utilities report that a combined 70,000 customers remain without power throughout the state.
Pacific Gas & Electric says about 68,000 of its Northern California customers remained in the dark Thursday after a total of 220,000 customers lost electricity since Wednesday.
The utility provides power to California customers north of Los Angles to the Oregon border.
Southern California Edison, which serves most of Southern California, reported about 2,000 customers without power after three days of heavy rains and winds pounded most of the state.
San Diego Gas & Electric reports no power outages.
An accumulation of heavy, wet snow caused a rear-engine jet parked at a Lake Tahoe-area airport to do a tail stand before mechanics returned it to its parked position.
Truckee Tahoe Airport official Marc Lamb took photos that were widely shared on social media sites. He tells The Associated Press that most of the 20 inches of dense snow that caused the Wednesday morning spectacle melted by Thursday.
No one was injured and the Cessna Citation X aircraft was not damaged by the heavy snow that locals dub “Sierra cement.”
Lamb says other aircraft were moved before the storm, but the Cessna parked outside for maintenance was too large for hangars at the airport northwest of Lake Tahoe about 180 miles (290 kilometers) east of San Francisco.
The National Weather Service has posted another winter storm warning in the area until Friday afternoon.
Wide areas of California are on alert for treacherous conditions as the latest in series of Pacific storms dumps rain and snow.
Flash flood warnings are posted in many areas statewide Thursday morning and some neighborhoods near wildfire burn scars are under evacuation orders.
The Santa Barbara County community of Montecito that was devastated by a deadly debris flow a year ago has received 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) of rain in 24 hours, but so far has avoided a repeat of the disaster.
In the Sierra Nevada foothills, a flash flood watch is in effect for the area burned by the wildfire that obliterated the town of Paradise in November. The higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada has seen blizzard conditions.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports three people, including a 1-year-old girl, were killed Tuesday when a car went out of control in heavy rain in El Dorado County and crashed into another car. Two other storm-related deaths were reported earlier in Northern California.
The last Pacific storm in a weeklong series is expected to douse an already-soaked California and forecasters say the state is still at risk for dangerous mudslides in burn areas and blizzards in the high Sierras.
Southern California hillsides scarred by last year’s massive wildfires have held up through days of rain but a final downpour is predicted Thursday.
Meanwhile, Northern California was hard-hit Wednesday. Authorities say a homeless man in Oakland died when a tree branch fell on him, possibly as he sought shelter from the rain.
Tens of thousands of Pacific Gas & Electric customers were left without power as the weather downed electrical lines.
Forecasters say the state should begin drying out Friday.