Waves of storms rolling in off the Pacific pummeled the West with rain, floods, mud slides and battering surf yesterday, while avalanches struck two towns and killed two people, bringing the foul-weather death toll to five. More storms were forecast.
Hundreds fled rising water in sandbagged California, where three people had drowned and three were missing -- one after a mud slide destroyed her home and two who were swept into storm-tossed waters.
In California's Sierra Nevada, massive rockslides shut Interstate 80 and an Amtrak train with about 500 passengers aboard was stranded for about 10 hours. Avalanches closed several other mountain highways and cut off June Lake, a ski resort near Yosemite National Park. Other avalanches killed one person each in Wyoming and Utah. Crews stacked sandbags as the Truckee River swelled in Reno and Sparks, Nev.
More than a foot of rain has fallen at some points since the storms began last week, while as much as 8 feet of snow has fallen on some mountains and wind has exceeded hurricane force. The California cities of Napa and Yountville were flooded and authorities reported evacuating about 100 persons near the rain-swollen Napa River.
Since Wednesday, 15.3 inches had fallen at Johnson Ranch in the Santa Cruz mountains 50 miles south of San Francisco, with 12.3 inches in the Big Sur mountains. Waves up to 12 feet smashed the California coast, and at least nine people had to be rescued from sinking boats.