/Floods swamp 2,000 homes, turn 2 California towns into islands as Russian River tops 45 feet

Floods swamp 2,000 homes, turn 2 California towns into islands as Russian River tops 45 feet



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Parts of Los Angeles saw hail coming down as a big blast of cold air moves into Southern California. The National Weather Service also confirmed sightings of a few snowflakes.
USA TODAY

Rivers swollen by days of heavy rain inundated portions of northern California on Wednesday, forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes.

However, about half of the 4,000 people ordered to leave have refused to do so. “We want you to leave now,” Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick urged. “The roads may become impassable and you may not be able to get out.”

Those who decided to stay stocked up on food and drinking water.

Two towns – Guerneville and Monte Rio – were islands surrounded by water, local officials said. The only way to reach the two communities now is by boat.

The swollen Russian River topped 32 feet Tuesday evening and it could crest at more than 46 feet by Wednesday night, which would be its highest level in about 25 years, according to the National Weather Service.

More: More rain, snow expected in storm-battered California, following days of mudslides and floods

The weather service issued flood warnings throughout the Sacramento Valley on Tuesday as tame roadside gullies boiled angrily with runoff, and creeks rushed over roads in some areas.

“It’s been mainly the small streams that have been running really high,” said meteorologist Craig Shoemaker at the weather service office in Sacramento. 

Parts of northern California scarred by last year’s devastating wildfires are especially vulnerable to flooding, he said. 

One rain gauge in Shasta County near Lassen National Park has picked up over 20 inches of rain in the past few days, the weather service said. 

Heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada will continue, the weather service said, and “an additional 1 to 3 feet of snow is possible there through Friday morning.” 

Mount Shasta Ski Park, about 185 miles north of Sacramento, was closed Tuesday as park officials shoveled the resort out from under the dumping of snow it received over the past day. 

“We have not experienced this amount of snow in such a short span in a long time,”  the park posted on Facebook Tuesday morning. “We have received 40 inches of snow in the last day and we are expecting 20 inches more today.”

The snow has already buried other parts of the Northwest: Officials in rural western Montana are prepared to rescue nearly 50 snowed-in residents of Cascade County if they need help.

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Contributing: The Associated Press; The (Redding, Calif.) Record Searchlight

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