Northern San Joaquin Valley residents and public works crews recovering from a punishing storm got a much-needed chance to clean up Saturday.
That was before late afternoon rains brought more street flooding and at least one downed tree in Modesto.
"We're just cleaning up yesterday's messes," said Rodney Clark, an arborist with Modesto public works, before the day's 0.61 inches of rain fell downtown.
Clark and his crew can expect a lot more work in the coming days.
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The National Weather Service's Sacramento office predicted more rain in the valley and the foothills today, with some clearing Monday, then more showers until Thursday.
That's not good for the already soaked region and state, which re- ported two deaths attributed to storms, and declared emergencies in three counties.
Among Saturday's developments:
A Yuba County transportation worker died Friday night after he was struck by a falling branch. One woman died early Saturday when a vehicle was swept off a flooded road in Southern California.
Rain and wind from the new storm arrived before the last storm had finished, and dumped more than 5 feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada. Combined, the back-to-back storms were on pace to dump as much as 9 feet of snow on mountaintops.
Gov. Schwarzenegger declared emergencies in three hard-hit counties -- Sacramento, Kings and Glenn.
In Southern California, thousands of residents were urged to stay away from homes that could be threatened by flooding and slides in wildfire-scarred areas, but mandatory evacuation orders were lifted.
About 120,000 homes and businesses from the Bay Area to the Central Valley were without power Saturday, down from more than 1.6 million Friday, according to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and other regional utility providers. Some residents in remote coastal and mountain areas could be without power for several more days, said PG&E spokesman David Eisenhauer.
To the east, a deluged canal levee ruptured early Saturday near Reno, sending 3 feet of water flowing through hundreds of homes, temporarily trapping 3,500 people in the town of Fernley, Nev.
In Modesto, as of 10 p.m. Saturday, the three storms that had moved through the area over the past three days dropped 2.38 inches of rain, the Modesto Irrigation District recorded.
More street flooding was seen throughout Modesto, Ceres, Turlock, Keyes and Oakdale on Saturday night.
Another tree fell and damaged a roof about 5 p.m. at a home in the 300 block of Jones Street, just east of McHenry Avenue, said Modesto Fire Battalion Chief Sean Slamon. The damage was not severe and left behind only a leaky roof, he said.
Earlier in the day, public works crews drained flooded streets and scooped up branches and debris, leftovers from Friday's winds and rain.
Clark, who was wielding a chain saw as part of a crew that was disposing of a fallen ash tree on Orange Avenue in the college neighborhood, said winds took down some of the tree's branches Friday. Then, when crews inspected the tree, they discovered it was mostly rotten inside.
"I'm surprised it didn't go over already," he said, as another crew member piloted a machine that lopped off the stump and deposited it in a waste hauler.
Many of the trees in that neighborhood, near Modesto Junior College, were planted in the 1940s, so strong storms often take them out, Clark said.
Trees and branches eventually become mulch at a city compost yard, he said.
Water, water everywhere
In east Modesto, public works crews tackled a different storm-related problem, as a two-man crew drained flooded streets near Yosemite Avenue.
Angel Martinez, with public works' waste-water and collections department, said that before the afternoon storm hit, he, like Clark, was concentrating on Friday's leftovers.
"Just trying to make everyone happy," he said as his pump truck dumped water from a broken main into the sewer on Haddon Avenue. Cold, wet weather often causes such issues, he explained.
From there, he and another worker went to Trask Lane, where a short stretch between Miller and Glendale avenues was covered with six inches of water.
With a noise like a honking goose in distress, the truck began draining water from the street, to the relief of residents Maria and Luis Rafael.
It was a familiar sight, said Maria Rafael, 79. In the couple's 34 years of living on Trask, she said, there's been street flooding almost every year, and sometimes several times a year.
"I don't like it too much," she said. On the front lawn, a crooked row of leaves and debris showed how high the water had risen.
"Even one time is too much."
The flooding appeared confined to a few streets, with the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers cresting at 10 feet or more below flood-watch stages in Stanislaus County.
The storms have been a boon for ski resorts. Dodge Ridge noted on its Web site that its almost three feet of snow meant the park was completely open, though the weather had knocked out phone service.
At Bear Valley Mountain Resort, administrative assistant Courtney Stamatis said Saturday the skiing was wonderful.
Sierra to get more snow
Weather service forecasters predicted 3 to 5 inches of snow would fall overnight and early today in the Sierra at higher than 2,500 feet, with less snowfall expected down to 2,000 feet. Snow showers were expected to decrease by this morning.
In the Sierra, the California Department of Transportation required snow tires or chains on Highway 108 from five miles west of Long Barn to seven miles east of Strawberry, where the highway was closed.
On Highway 4, Caltrans required snow tires or chains from Arnold eastward.
The National Weather Service recorded gusts as strong as 165 mph on mountaintops northwest of Lake Tahoe on Friday, while gale-force winds in valleys throughout Northern California flipped big-rigs, closed airports and sent trees crashing onto houses, cars and roads.
Interstate 80 across the Sierra, the main east-west link connecting Northern California and Nevada, reopened after being closed overnight. But by Saturday afternoon, police were forcing motorists to use chains over a 60-mile stretch of the road and warned that it could be closed again overnight.
Ken Gosting, executive director of Transportation Involves Everyone in Yosemite Valley, said Highway 50 from Pollack Pines to Meyers had been shut down because of the risk of avalanche.
"That essentially shuts down every pass in the Sierra," he said. "All the passes being closed is very unusual. It happens once every 15 years."
The weather service warned that "attempting to travel in the Sierra will put your life at risk."
Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2331.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada and The Associated Press contributed to this report.