News California storm forces flood rescues but spares MontecitoAMANDA LEE MYERS and JOHN ANTCZAK • This drone photo from video provided by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services shows firefighters from the Folsom, Calif., Fire Department rescuing a motorist whose car became stuck as a flash flood washed over a road near Folsom Thursday, March 22, 2018. A powerful storm spread more rain across California on Thursday, swelling rivers, flooding streets and causing some mud and rock slides but, so far, sparing communities a repeat of the disastrous debris flows that hit during a downpour early this year. (Kelly B. Huston/California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services via AP)LOS ANGELES (AP) — A powerful storm in California that swelled rivers, flooded streets and triggered water rescues throughout the state was on its last gasp.Though the three-day storm had spared communities a repeat of the deadly debris flows following a deluge earlier this year, it dumped record rainfall in some parts and unleashed flooding that led to dramatic rescues Thursday from Los Angeles in Southern California all the way to Folsom, some 400 miles (645 kilometers) to the north.Related SearchesMontecito FloodingFlooding In CaliforniaCalifornia StormsFlooding In California TodayNantucket Storm Flooding TodayAll remaining flood warnings and watches were set to expire overnight Friday.”This is really the last gasp we’re dealing with,” National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Hall said. „It was a very lucky break.”Authorities lifted evacuation orders for some 30,000 people Thursday in disaster-weary Santa Barbara County, which includes Montecito, where mudslides killed 21 people and inundated hundreds of homes in January.”We dodged a bullet when this storm did not reach its full potential and actually veered off to the north and south of us,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference.Meanwhile in San Luis Obispo County in central California, rescuers reported pulling 10 people from the Salinas River in separate incidents throughout the day Thursday. A helicopter plucked six people from the water while swimmers got the others, said Paso Robles Fire Chief Jonathan Stornetta.”I was swimming and going from tree to tree,” Monica Johnson, among those rescued from the Salinas River, told KSBY-TV.Johnson, her boyfriend and their dog were rescued from the river by helicopter after they got trapped on an island trying to cross it.”The guy, I told him, ‘Thank you,’ the guy that grabbed me up,” she said. „He wasn’t sitting there making me feel panicking. He made me feel safe.”Rescuers pulled a man and his dog from the Los Angeles River and in Folsom, a man had to jump from the roof of his car to a rescue boat after he got stuck in floodwaters.Some 80 miles (129 kilometers) east of Santa Barbara, passers-by helped rescue a couple whose car had turned upside down in rushing water on a neighborhood road, according to video posted by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Department. Another video showed the moment a passer-by jumped onto the overturned SUV and broke out a back window before pulling out the driver.Meanwhile, various problems arose in Tuolumne County, in the central part of the state”We had a very heavy rain cell that came through and caused a great deal of havoc throughout the county,” Sheriff Jim Mele said at a news conference. „This cell was very powerful.”One couple stranded atop a chicken coop had to be rescued after their home and cars were flooded, and a dam leak in the Sierra Nevada foothills prompted about three dozen people to evacuate. A full dam failure was averted.Not far from the dam in the small community of Groveland, flooded streets caused minor property damage and students at two schools had to shelter in place because buses weren’t able to reach them. They were later released to their parents.”We had basically a river going through downtown Groveland,” Mele said, adding that waters also dislodged two propane tanks from a home. The tanks hit a car and a home but no damage was reported.Authorities began praising the storm for dropping a good dose of much-need water in the area, where drought conditions have recently gone back to extreme or severe levels.”We’re still in a drought so this was a good rain, and we could use more of the good rain,” National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Jackson said.The county saw between 2 to 5 inches (5 to 13 centimeters) of water in coastal areas, 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) in foothills and mountains and 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters) in parts of the central coast.Thousands of people fled Montecito and neighboring communities in advance of the storm, just as they had during previous rains and last year during a wildfire that became the largest in state history as it destroyed more than 1,000 buildings, mostly homes.In Los Angeles County, authorities canceled some planned mandatory evacuations because of a projected decrease in rainfall but kept others in place because of debris flows in one canyon area stripped bare by wildfires.A large chunk of a hillside fell away in a Los Angeles canyon that burned last year, but no one was hurt.The storm also toppled a pine tree across one neighborhood street and a eucalyptus tree into a home in another neighborhood. No one was injured.The storm came ashore earlier in the week as a so-called atmospheric river, a long plume of Pacific moisture that is also known as a „Pineapple Express” because of its origins near Hawaii.
By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Authorities in Southern California lifted evacuation orders on Thursday for more than 60,000 people living adjacent to fire-scarred foothills and mountain slopes along the Santa Barbara coast as rains and the threat of dangerous mudslides abated.
The evacuation was put into effect on Tuesday in the same general area where torrential rains in January unleashed cascades of mud, boulders and other debris that killed 21 people, injured dozens of others and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes.
Most of that devastation occurred in the affluent hillside community of Montecito, 85 miles (137 km) northwest of Los Angeles, in a region where vast swaths of the coastal landscape were stripped of vegetation by huge wildfires in December.
In the aftermath of that disaster, authorities instituted a policy of enforced evacuations in slide-prone areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties whenever forecasts call for downpours that might exceed the capacity of the region’s catchment and drainage systems to control flash floods.
The latest Pacific storm, the third in two weeks, had been expected to drench local mountainsides with up to 10 inches (25 cm) of rain, and some street flooding occurred in Montecito, said Amber Anderson, a spokeswoman for the unified incident command.
By late Thursday, showers had subsided with no severe mudslides or debris flows reported, officials said.
„We haven’t had any significant problems and the bulk of the rain has passed through the area, so there doesn’t appear to be any significant threat,” Ventura County sheriff’s spokesman Sergeant Eric Buschow told Reuters.
A Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office notice said minor debris flows were still possible „but will not threaten populated areas.”
All evacuation orders were lifted as of 5 p.m., Buschow said. But the showers were not without consequences.
In northern California, heavy rains caused a small dam on the Moccasin Reservoir, east of San Francisco, to overflow, prompting the National Weather Service to warn that the structure was in danger of imminent collapse.
Local authorities evacuated areas below the dam, including a campground, a fish hatchery and a marina, and said that even if the dam failed, its water would flow harmlessly downstream into the much larger Don Pedro Reservoir, the sixth-largest in the state.
Several roadways in coastal counties northwest of Los Angeles were flooded, and there have been a number of car crashes on slick roadways, though no deaths, California Highway Patrol spokesman Danny Maher said.
As rains soaked parts of California, the East Coast was digging out from the fourth major snowstorm this month, which closed schools, grounded flights and halted bus and train service across the region. Two people died in separate traffic crashes, local media reported.
(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Dan Grebler and Leslie Adler)
NEW YORK (AP) — The latest nor’easter lost some punch as it rolled into New England on Thursday, as millions of people elsewhere in the Northeast dug out from the storm that dumped more than a foot of snow in some places, knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers and had many wishing for more spring-like weather.
„We’re supposed to be getting ready for Easter, not a nor’easter,” said 46-year-old Raeme Dempsey, as her 6-year-old daughter, Jadalynn, pulled her toward a Philadelphia park so they could see the trees blanketed in freshly fallen snow.
Long Island took a hard hit, with Bay Shore and Patchogue leading the way with 19 inches of snow. While some parts of Pennsylvania saw more than a foot of snow, major cities along Interstate 95 saw much less. New York City’s Central Park recorded about 8 inches while downtown Philadelphia got 7.
The storm weakened a bit in the early hours of Thursday, and Boston expected to escape with just a few inches of snow before it tapered off Thursday afternoon. Along the Massachusetts coast, winds gusted to 40 mph (64 kph) and some towns dealt with flooding.
„It’s time to move on to another season,” said Pancho Ortega, who was clearing the sidewalk outside his soon-to-open restaurant in Philadelphia.
Airlines canceled more than 4,000 flights Wednesday, but they lumbered back into service throughout the Northeast on Thursday. On the ground, Amtrak scaled back service on the Northeast corridor between Washington and Boston, and continued a modified schedule Thursday. At least two traffic deaths were reported in New Jersey and on New York’s Long Island.
In New Jersey, the state’s major utilities reported slightly more than 76,000 customers without service Thursday. Officials also were trying to determine whether the storm caused more beach erosion at the Jersey shore.
The storm also unloaded snow on Virginia and West Virginia as it pushed into the Northeast. Virginia reported more 240 traffic accidents.
Hill contributed from Albany, New York. Also contributing were Kristen de Groot and Sharyn Flanagan in Philadelphia, Michael Rubinkam in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, Wayne Parry in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, Bruce Shipkowski in Toms River, New Jersey, and Kiley Armstrong and Larry Neumeister in New York City.
The weather for the week ahead in the leading European ski domains is less cold than it has been, but temperatures are still going to be well below the norms for this stage of the season and significant fresh snowfall is forecast. All the premier Alpine resorts are in superb shape with more or less all pistes complete and skiing typically on a deep cover of dry groomed snow. Across the pond the season in the USA seems to have been turned upside down as right now the snowfall is heavier, and the temperatures lower, than for much of the first half of the winter. Canada continues to offer excellent skiing with regular supplies of fresh powder being reported in the past week and more forecast for the week to come.
There continues to be superb snow and skiing conditions in all the premier French resorts, with most boasting deep, dry and fresh snow cover at all elevations. The week ahead promises mixed overhead conditions but also significant snowfall, with temperatures likely to remain low enough for dry snow to be preserved to resort elevation. Tignes in the Espace Killy continues to offer epic skiing, with staggering snow accumulations visible in the villages and upper slopes holding close to 400cm of base. Today 74 of 76 lifts are open with skiing on dry packed snow. The resort has 30cm of fresh snow forecast for the next five days.
The best ski resorts in France
There are still fantastic snow conditions on offer for skiers right across Austriaand especially so in the high elevation resorts that skiers tend to head to in late March. Not that there is any specific need to ski high right now as many lower level Austrian pistes are still offering fine skiing and further falls of fresh snow are predicted for the week ahead. St Anton (1,300m) holds 380cm of snow base beneath top station at 2,800m and even resort runs have over 100cm of snow cover. The next seven days have 30cm of fresh snow predicted for St Anton and average temperature highs will remain close to 0ºC.
best ski resorts in Austria
The epic Swiss season rolls on with no real sign of winter giving way. Skiers continue to enjoy dry groomed snow on pistes at all elevations in the leading areas and the week ahead’s forecast promises further significant fresh snowfall. Whilst temperatures are expected to rise it certainly does not appear yet to be a leap into spring, as the freezing level is not going to move far above resort elevation. Zermatt (1,620m) continues to report huge snow depths with 350cm of base on pistes beneath top station at 3,900m. Today 43 of 52 lifts are open providing access to all pistes and the resort has 30cm of fresh snowfall in the five-day forecast.
The best Swiss ski resorts
The Italian Alps and the Dolomites are offering superb skiing conditions for this stage of the season with spring seemingly still on hold across the region. Courmayeur (1,225m) above the Aosta Valley is today offering all 20 lifts and skiing is on groomed dry snow at all elevations. Beneath top station at 2,750m the snow depth is now recorded at 250cm and that will soon increase again with the five-day forecast predicting 40cm of snowfall. Other Italian ski areas will receive less significant snowfall next week but with the freezing level not rising much above resort level, piste conditions are sure to be excellent.
Best Italian ski resorts
The premier Canadian ski resorts of Alberta and British Columbia continue to offer great sport and the week ahead promises more of the same with cool temperatures and periods of mostly light snowfall. Whistler (652m) reports 290cm of snow base at mid mountain with skiing typically on dry groomed and packed powder snow. The past week has been mostly dry in Whistler and only light snowfalls are expected over the next five days, however with the freezing level never much higher than village level skiers can expect fine piste conditions to be maintained.
The best ski resorts in Canada
For the fourth week in a row the major weather event in the USA has been another NE’ly storm-front delivering snowfall and bitterly cold high winds to the eastern seaboard. For skiers this means more snow dumping in the New England ski areas and resort such as Killington and Stowe are some of the main beneficiaries. In Colorado there has also been fresh snowfall and today Breckenridge (2,926m) reports fresh and dry snow on trails at all elevations. Mid-mountain snow depth is now 150cm and today 33 of 34 lifts are providing access to excellent skiing conditions on all trails across the domain.
best ski resorts america usa
Recent days have been wintry and breezy in the Pyrenees and uplift has been adversely affected at times but the piste conditions are exceptionally good for this stage of the season across all resorts of the Grandvalira and Vallnord domains. Arcalis (1,940m) holds 250cm of snow base across upper slopes and skiing is on fresh and groomed dry snow. All pistes are complete and all 15 lifts are expected to operate this weekend. The forecast predicts periods of heavy snowfall this weekend for the Pyrenees and the average temperature high for the next week will be just above 0ºC at resort level.
Temperatures have been well below the seasonal norm across the region for the past week with fresh snowfall reported by all the leading resorts. The five-day forecast also looks interesting, while temperatures will steadily creep up there is also significant snowfall expected. Spindleruv Mlyn (715m) in the Czech Republic today holds over 50cm of snow base at mid-mountain and skiing conditions are exceptionally good for this stage of the season. Next week the surface conditions will improve further with as much as 40cm of fresh snow predicted and temperature highs expected to be just a few degrees above zero at resort elevation.
The best ski resorts in Eastern Europe
The ski season continues in style across Finland, Norway and Sweden with ample snow cover at all elevations and fairly regular supplies of fresh dry snow. Temperatures remain cool though not excessively so by Scandinavian standards. Voss (300m) in Norway holds some of the most impressive regional snow depths on upper pistes descending from top station at 950m with 270cm the base depth today. This weekend most of the 11 lifts are expected to operate and the forecast predicts 15cm of fresh snow to come through the weekend. Average resort elevation temperature high in Voss next week will be just above 0ºC.
It has been an incredible year for skiing in Scotland with snow cover so substantial that all pistes at all five centres remain fully complete. Whilst high winds and poor visibility frequently limit the potential for skiers there have been several blue-bird days recently in the Highlands and they always feel so special for skiers lucky enough to catch them. The next five days look promising for Scottish skiing with more snowfall on its way, though the freezing level may at times rise to a level that will mean sleet or rain at lower elevations.
Staying safe when skiing or snowboarding in the mountains is crucial – an important part of that is being aware of the risk of avalanche where you are, being prepared when heading off piste, and knowing what to do should an avalanche happen.
The Telegraph Ski & Snowboard has teamed up with Henry Schneiwind from Henry’s Avalanche Talk, to provide up-to-date avalanche safety reports from the Savoie region of the French Alps, which includes popular resorts such as Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens and Les Menuires in the Trois Vallées as well as Val d’Isère, Tignes, La Plagne, Les Arcs, La Rosière and La Tania.
What is the current avalanche risk in the Northern French Alps/Savoie
Henry Schniewind: At the moment, off-piste conditions and risks change from day to day, but the conditions are generally stable with some isolated areas of localised instability. Check for information on specific risks to look out in the daily avalanche bulletin for your ski area.
What does this mean for off-piste skiers and snowboarders?
HS: Off-piste snow depths remain the deepest for over 40 years! And with the continuing cold temperatures, we’re still finding incredible cold, dry and light powder snow conditions. Despite the fact that it’s now officially spring, we’re enjoying every minute of this wonderful extended winter with its fantastic snow!
In high-altitude Val d’Isère (the resort village is at 1,850m) and other places set at a similar height, we’ve not yet witnessed any spring snow conditions, and don’t expect to for at least the next week or so.
Copy of Avalanche safety | Risk scale
Maybe at lower altitudes in other places, or on sunny south-facing slopes, spring snow could just be starting, but we’re still very much in the grip of winter in the Northern French Alps.
Where is most at risk at the moment?
HS: Off-piste skiers and snowboarders need to especially careful on the colder north-facing slopes above 2,500m, where recently fallen snow is still very light and un-bonded. There is also solid windslab to be found here, resting on top of that unconsolidated snow in places. Of course, these slopes are also where the best quality off-piste snow can be found.
This year’s relatively stable snowpack is due to vast snow fall, and as we approach the end of the ski season, the snowpack will become more and more predictable as it melts and refreezes, but we’re not quite there yet.
However the deep snowpack and big snowfalls have prevented persistent dangerous weak layers developing, as they did over the last few years in most of the northern French Alps. In previous years this weak layer was a problem not only in the winter, it became a problem in springtime, and this is not the case this year.
What is the likely avalanche activity this week?
HS: As always at this time of year, off-piste routes that are easily accessed by ski lift are less likely to experience avalanche activity than the less-skied ones accessible only by ski touring, thanks to the stabilising effect of skier compaction. However, the easily-accessed, well-compacted areas get very quickly tracked out and aren’t so much fun to ski (unless you like funky chopped up powder!).
Avalanche safety: How to stay safe from avalanches when skiing
When the sun does come out in March, it is very strong and has an impact on south-facing slopes. They get crusty quite quickly. With a few sunny days ahead, we will also continue to see some natural slides of humidified snow, especially due to rapid warming on slopes subject to incoming radiation from the sun.
There have been a lot of these in the last week, some of them down to ground level. We’ll also probably see the odd glide crack avalanche releasing – caused by layers of snow sliding down the hill at different rates, with the ones on the bottom going faster – though not many of these. These are unpredictable but not triggered by people. Just don’t hang around under them!
How does the forecast look for the coming week?
Winter is staying with us. While it will be sunny and around 0ºC till Sunday, after that the weather be stay cold and cloudy with occasional sunny breaks and snowfall. This looks set to continue for another 10 days at least. Maximum daytime temperatures will be 0 to 4ºC – which means below freezing higher up.
Ski: the latest snow reports
Thursday 22 March
After a good overnight refreeze, we’ll see a beautiful sunny day, with just some very thin, high cloud. Cold north-easterly wind at altitude, 20 to 70 km per hour at 2,500m. 0°C at 400m, -10° C at 3,300m. From mid-afternoon, cloud will start building up in high mountain areas. Areas like the Tarentaise (eg Trois Vallées resorts like Méribel) and Beaufortain (eg Arêches Beaufort) could receive a few fresh snowflakes.
Friday 23 March
Another sunny day at higher altitude, with a sea of cloud hanging around at 2,000m. Gusts of north-easterly wind, 40 to 60 km per hour. 0°C at 1,200m.
Saturday 24 March
Continuing sunny weather in the mountains, with just some veiled high cloud. 0°C at 1,500m. Cumulus clouds will start building in the afternoon, and we could see some light snow falling overnight.
Sunday 25 and Monday 26 March
Unsettled weather, with a lot of cloud. This could bring small amounts of fresh snowfall to altitudes above 1,000m. Temperatures slightly below seasonal norms.
Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 March
A mixture of dry spells and snow showers in the mountains.
Tip of the week
The snow conditions are really good off-piste at the moment. Have fun and be safe by applying basic risk reduction measures. Use the Henry’s Avlanche Talks off-piste quick reference checklist and essentials videos available at henrysavalanchetalk.com to become familiar with the basics.
Keep an eye on our HAT Facebook updates for info on latest snow stability. See Henry’s Avalanche Talks Facebook page here.
The bipartisan measure would allow for an additional $20 billion in wildfire disaster funding over 10 years to prevent “fire borrowing,” which occurs when officials from the Forest Service and other federal agencies use money set aside for fire prevention and reforestation programs to fight wildfires.
Fire borrowing has become an increasingly common practice as wildfires grow more destructive due to climate change. The eight worst wildfire seasons on record have all occurred in the past 15 years, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
The provision creates a contingency account through 2027 that can only be tapped by officials once funds from the usual firefighting accounts have been drained, according to The Associated Press.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Idaho), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), along with Reps. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), played key roles in securing the funding in the spending bill, which is awaiting Senate approval.
“This long-overdue, bipartisan solution to the madness of ‘fire borrowing’ will at last treat these infernos like the natural disasters they are, with the benefit that millions of dollars will now be liberated each year for essential wildfire prevention,” Wyden said in a statement Thursday.
Environmental groups praised the additional wildfire disaster funding as a major step for conservation efforts.
“The comprehensive solution to the wildfire funding problem included in the bill is a tremendous victory,” Lynn Scarlett, co-chief external affairs officer for the Nature Conservancy, said in a statement Thursday.
“It would mean we will no longer have to pay to fight increasing wildfire disasters out of the very same budgets that could have instead gone toward making forests healthier and less prone to these extreme wildfires in the first place.”