California battles record-breaking snow and rain

A significant storm over the last several days created many impacts across California, causing some cities to flood, and higher elevations to record several feet of snow.

More than 7 inches of rain fell in Ventura County, causing flash flooding early Saturday morning according to The Associated Press. The excess rain caused roads to flood, which stranded cars on roadways. On Saturday morning, the Los Angeles Fire Department ground and air responders rescued four people and five animals from flooding in Encino. Two of the individuals were suffering from hypothermia and were transported to an area hospital. The other individuals and the five animals were all uninjured.

Air travel was halted for a majority of Southern California when a ground stop was issued for Los Angeles International Airport, impacting all departing and arriving flights on Friday. A number of inbound flights during the stop were diverted to Ontario International Airport, approximately 55 miles east, according to ABC7 journalist Brittany Silverstein. The stop expired around 1 a.m. PST Saturday morning.

Power outages across the state surpassed 100,000 on both Friday and Saturday morning, with the highest amount of outages Saturday coming from Los Angeles County, where 26,770 outages were reported. Outages were still above 50,000 in the state as of Monday afternoon.

Flooding also impacted many roads across the state, including Interstate 5 which was closed in several spots on Saturday morning due to flooding and icy roads.

On Friday afternoon, Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer was in the mountains near Pasadena, California, and witnessed water gushing off the mountains and flowing toward the Los Angeles area. Timmer was standing near an area that is usually dry but was transformed into a raging river following several inches of rain in less than 24 hours.

"Every single one of these washes are flooded out. These are normally dry," Timmer said.

The official rain gauge in downtown Los Angeles were filled with 2.29 inches of rain on Friday, making it the wettest February day since Feb. 12, 2003, when 2.45 inches fell. The single-day rainfall was also orders of magnitude greater than the total rainfall from the past three Februarys, which combined for only 0.10 of an inch of rain.

Roughly 30 miles to the northwest, flash flooding swept away several campers near Santa Clarita when an embankment washed out. Video footage showed at least one of the campers lying on its side.

Californians who were looking to experience snow did not have to travel far to find some snowflakes. Typically, snow is limited to the higher terrains, but snowflakes were occasionally seen Friday and Saturday, even at elevations below 1,000 feet.

The heavy snow in the lower elevations was too much for some tree limbs with the added weight causing branches to snap, and in extreme cases, entire trees to come tumbling down.

On Monday, San Bernardino County declared a local emergency after heavy snowfall trapped several mountain community residents in their homes, as well as preventing others from reaching home. The declaration seeks both state and federal help to clear snow from mountain highways and neighborhood streets.

Snow reached some of California's famous wineries in Napa County. Vineyard operator Mark Neal told CBS News that he woke up to a foot of snow on Friday, causing some tree limbs to snap.

"It's pretty much a battleground if you look at it. Some of them are over 200 years old," Neil said. Fortunately, the grapes were unscathed, as the vines are currently dormant. Neil added that this storm has been the biggest snowstorm he has seen in the area since the 1970s.

In the higher elevations, an all-out blizzard unfolded. Ahead of the storm, the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Los Angeles issued its first blizzard warning since 1989, and the NWS office in San Diego issued its first-ever blizzard warning in its history.

California's mountain areas have received up to nearly 6 feet of snow over the past several days, including Snow Valley, which recorded 66 inches of snow since Wednesday. Bear Mountain and Soda Springs both had over 50 inches of snow. Bear Mountain received 57 inches of snowfall and over 100 inches for the whole week. Big Bear Mountain ski resort spokesman Justin Kern told The Epoch Times Friday that the snowfall this week exceeds the retreat's yearly average.

Those traveling near the mountains had to deal with several road closures, including Interstate 80 which shut down at Donner Pass twice on Friday. On Friday evening, all westbound lanes of the interstate at the Nevada state line were being turned around due to multiple crashes. California State Route 17 between Santa Clara and Santa Cruz County was also closed due to snow and trees down.

High wind gusts also impacted the state as a result of the storm, topping 90 miles per hour in two locations. A 98-mph wind gust recorded on Mammoth Mountain was the highest of the day for the state as of Friday afternoon. San Guillermo was the other location in the state to record a wind gust over 90 mph. Magic Mountain, Kirkwood and Pilot Rock also had wind gusts above 80 mph.

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