Two dead in submerged car as major Christmas storm hits California

A warning of slippery conditions has been flagged for motorists by the California’s department of transportation

Arpan Rai
Monday 27 December 2021 07:39
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<p>The winter storm on Interstate 80 in Donner Summit, California on 23 December</p>

The winter storm on Interstate 80 in Donner Summit, California on 23 December

Overnight rains in northern California resulted in the death of two people in a submerged car even as the Christmas weekend was upended by storms and snow blowing from the mountains, leading to whiteout conditions and shutting down of key highways.

Firefighters in Millbrae, just south of San Francisco, were able to rescue a driver who had climbed atop his vehicle at a flooded underpass. But they were not able to reach people in another car, the Associated Press reported quoting San Mateo County Sheriff’s Detective Javier Acosta.

Authorities warned that travel in the Sierra Nevada could be difficult for several days amid the snow and poor visibility due to the declining weather.

This comes after at least three people were injured near Reno on Sunday after 30 cars piled up on Interstate 395 due to limited visibility.

Officials had to shut down a 70-mile stretch on Interstate 80 till Monday from California’s Colfax to the Nevada state line, including the Lake Tahoe region.

A warning of slippery conditions has been flagged for motorists by the California’s department of transportation as it shut down many other roads in the area.

In its forecast on Twitter, the National Weather Service office in Reno, Nevada warned about more snow and said: “Expect major travel delays on all roads. Today is the type of day to just stay home if you can. More snow is on the way too!”

Another warning for winter storm was issued for greater Lake Tahoe until Tuesday, 1am, because of likely “widespread whiteout conditions” and wind gusts that could be moving at 72kph, officials said.

Holiday travellers and locals in California were warned about winter conditions — including periods of rain and snow — through Christmas and into the week after as snow levels were predicted to drop to 1,000 feet last week.

Other areas in the western US state also remained under changing weather conditions as officials warned about turbulent weather from San Diego to Seattle.

Many places in the state reported snow over the weekend. Portland in Oregon is expected to get another 2.5 inches of snow by Monday morning after a dusting over the weekend, the weather service warned.

Santa Barbara County’s San Marco pass recorded more than 1.8 inches of rain and Rocky Butte in San Luis Obispo County saw 1.61 inches, officials said.

The highest elevations of the Sierra could receive up to 8 feet of snow, officials warned.

At least 40 miles of coastal Highway 1 in the Big Sur region south of San Francisco Bay Area remained shut down after heavy rains triggered rockslides last week.

Officials have not stated when the stretch — routinely closed after wet weather— will be reopened.

The Terminal 5 on Los Angeles International Airport was also forced shut partially due to “storm-related electrical issue”, resulting in diversion of post-Christmas passengers to other terminals.

The Los Angeles airport officials alerted the passengers in a tweet and said: “Cancellations and delays are possible, so it will be important to check your flight status today if flying through Terminal 5”.

The weather conditions in California declined last week due to heavy overnight rains in which two people were killed after their cars were fully submerged.

Officials said some people were rescued from the flooded underpass in Millbrae, just south of San Francisco.

(Additional reporting from the wires)

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