Damage lingers as Bay Area’s first storm blows itself away

By Justin Pritchard The Associated Press
Monday November 11, 2002

rains and wind blew themselves out heading into Sunday, damage lingered from a trio of powerful storms that swept through California. 

In all, nearly 1.6 million people suffered a power outage since the storms hit Wednesday night. By Saturday night, about 20,000 Pacific Gas & Electric customers remained without power, while another 1,000 Southern California Edison customers were still in the dark. 

Clean-up crews in the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Sonora spent Saturday slogging through a muddy flash flood that rushed though city streets overnight. No injuries were reported. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard has called off searches for two people swept out to sea by giant waves — a 4-year-old boy who lived north of Eureka and a 26-year-old Connecticut man who was walking Friday afternoon on a beach near Santa Cruz. 

“The chances of survival were pretty much nil,” said Coast Guard Petty Office Carl Hausner of the Santa Cruz drowning. Buoys in the area showed swells between 20 and 25 feet. 

The storms dumped nearly two inches of rain on San Francisco and up to eight inches in coastal mountains south of the city, according to the National Weather Service. 

Downtown Los Angeles received close to two inches of rain in the past four days, said Philip Gonsalves, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. 

In Southern California, rain fell steady, but increasingly lighter throughout the day. Drivers also encountered dense fog that reduced visibility on the roadways to a quarter-mile. 

In Santa Monica, a one-story, Craftsman-style duplex slipped down a slight slope and ruptured a gas meter late Friday evening, prompting an evacuation of several nearby homes, fire officials said. The 1920s-era building was not bolted to the foundation and authorities had not determined if the incident was related to the weather. 

Light rain and clouds will continue through Sunday afternoon and a warming trend will begin Monday, Gonsalves said. 

The storms did have an upside. 

The only two Lake Tahoe ski resorts open so far – Boreal atop Donner Summit and Mt. Rose above Reno – offered top-to-bottom skiing Saturday for the first time this season. 

“It’s dumping right now. It’s awesome,” Boreal spokeswoman Jody Churich said. “People are totally stoked because it’s a light, dry powder.” 

State fire officials have lifted a dry-season ban on outdoor fires and were preparing to close fire season across Northern California. Also Friday, two inches of rain finally extinguished the four-month-old Biscuit Fire, which straddled the California-Oregon border and was the biggest single wildfire in the nation this year at nearly 500,000 acres.