A blustery storm that ushered strong winds and heavy rain into the Northern San Joaquin Valley, foothills and Sierra on Friday left behind downed trees, flooded roads and scattered power failures across the region.
While the storm had moved on late Friday, a third wave in three days was expected to move in today. It should pack less of a punch, but be colder and bring more snow, according to the National Weather Service.
Friday's storm produced powerful winds of up to 55 mph that develop about once every 10 years, said Karl Swanberg, a forecaster with the weather service in Sacramento.
"It doesn't mean we won't see it again this year," Swanberg said, "but these wind events are rare."
The highest wind gust recorded downtown Friday by the Modesto Irrigation District was 39 mph.
Today's storm is expected to bring more rain and wind from 8 to 16 mph to the valley and the foothills, according to the weather service. The storm also is expected to dump more snow on the mountains and lower the snow levels to about 3,000 feet by this afternoon.
The snow level is expected to drop again Sunday to about 2,000 feet, and several feet of snow are possible in the highest elevations, with wind gusts in excess of 60 mph creating blizzard conditions.
On Friday night, Stanislaus County officials expressed relief that the wind and rain had not created major damage.
"The storm behaved in the manner it was predicted," said Royjindar Singh, a Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy who is spokesman for the county's Office of Emergency Services.
He said there was plenty of localized street flooding around the county, but not enough to produce long-term road closures.
"If something major does occur -- say a large power outage in the county -- we have plans in place to open up shelters, emergency response centers and respond appropriately," Singh said. "We haven't seen any major incidents."
In Modesto, police closed North Ninth Street between Needham and M streets for about an hour Friday afternoon because water was creeping up the side of cars trying to pass.
About 3:30 p.m., the California Highway Patrol reported all three northbound lanes of Highway 99 just south of Kansas Avenue were flooded, but the hazard was cleared quickly.
The wind uprooted a large tree that crashed Friday morning through the roof of a rural home in the 1900 block of North Vincent Road in Denair. Singh said the damage displaced the family; the residents stayed with neighbors Friday night.
The same thing happened Friday afternoon to a home on Eighth Street in Keyes when a tree in the front yard smashed through the roof. Singh said it appeared the rain had loosened the soil enough to bring the tree down.
Several trees were reported down in Oakdale, including up to a half-dozen in Dorado Park.
Wind makes roads hazardous
The MID dealt with power problems through the day affecting a few hundred customers. In those cases, power was restored within an hour, said Tom Kimball, assistant general manager of transmission and distribution.
The district had about 70 personnel in the field, including trouble shooters, tree trimmers and maintenance crews. Its control center was getting 25 to 50 calls an hour from people reporting problems, Kimball said.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews reported about 3,000 people without power in Tuolumne County and a like number in San Joaquin County.
The weather also made for hazardous road conditions and delays.
Peter Dumlao said that driving from Modesto to Hayward on Friday morning took three hours, twice the time it usually takes.
"There was a lot of water, but it was mostly the wind blowing," Dumlao said of the hazards along Interstate 580. "I drive a utility pickup with square boxes in the back. If I went faster than 50 miles an hour, it would blow me all over the freeway."
The MID reported 1.67 inches of rain fell in Modesto on Friday as of 9 p.m., which is more than Modesto Public Works Department employees could handle, said Tony Souza, a supervisor with the city's Department of Operations and Maintenance.
"We've got nowhere to go with the water, so it starts spilling onto the roadways, affecting the flow of our sanitary sewers, and creating flooding situations into homes and businesses," Souza said. "Normally, one inch in a day gives us a problem."
Several manholes in Modesto reportedly popped open from the water pressure.
Souza said the city has a 60-inch- wide storm drain line that runs down Ninth Street and dumps water into the Tuolumne River. The drain picks up water from the downtown area, the College Avenue area and portions of Needham Street.
The heaviest rain fell from 2 to 4 p.m., with nearly three quarters of an inch recorded in downtown Modesto, according to the MID.
Rain is likely to continue into Tuesday, according to the weather service, and the clouds should start to clear up Thursday.
While residents worried about their homes, the storms are easing concerns that 2008 would be another dry year.
"This is a nice, cold storm," said Jeff Shields, general manager of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, based in Manteca. "We're hoping for a lot of snow, and it seems like it's materializing."
For most farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, January is an ideal time for rain. Fruit and nut trees do not have the blossoms that, with the help of mild weather later in winter, will start to turn into crops.
While the snow is good for ski resorts, the wind was bad.
Bear Valley ski resort on Highway 4 closed at 12:30 p.m. because of 48 mph winds.
Rosie Sundell, senior marketing director for Bear Valley, said opening today would depend on safety conditions. She said the resort would update conditions throughout the night on its Web site, www.bearvalley.com.
Badger Pass ski area, inside Yosemite National Park, also closed. Kenny Karst, spokesman for Delaware North Co., which operates the ski area and other tourist attractions in the park, said the company decided at 9:15 a.m. Friday against opening as winds blustered at the top of the mountain. Gusts hit 50 to 60 mph, he said.
Karst said they would evaluate conditions this morning before deciding whether to reopen.
Dodge Ridge ski area in eastern Tuolumne County remained open. The resort and Bear Valley estimated about a foot of snow had fallen by late afternoon. Dodge Ridge spokesman Andy Wyllie predicted up to two feet overnight.
Tourists in Yosemite Valley enjoyed relatively easy conditions Friday afternoon.
Park Ranger Scott Gediman opted for a long walk. "It's been raining steadily all day, but it is beautiful," he said. "Yosemite Falls are flowing."
In the foothills, the storm brought rain and heavy gusts, but as of Friday evening, had not delivered the brutal punch predicted.
"We are relieved the weather was lighter than expected but we do have some challenges before us," said Steve Boyack, coordinator of the Tuolumne County Office of Emergency Services.
River and reservoir levelsView Larger Map
Bee staff writers Ken Carlson, John Holland, Inga Miller, Thomas Pardee and J.N. Sbranti contributed to this report.