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Weather throughout Stanislaus County soaked farmland and cities alike, toppled trees and brought on a bloom of umbrellas as pedestrians sought refuge from the downpour.
Weather throughout Stanislaus County soaked farmland and cities alike, toppled trees and brought on a bloom of umbrellas as pedestrians sought refuge from the downpour. Modesto Bee

Stanislaus County emergency officials said they will continue monitoring waterways today, but the flooding threat had subsided by Friday evening after most of the rainfall's runoff had moved down Dry Creek, into the Tuolumne River and out of the Modesto area.

To the east, heavy snowfall had hundreds of homes and businesses in the dark Friday night in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties, but the number of power failures had dropped dramatically from about 15,000 Thursday, said a Pacific Gas & Electric spokeswoman.

Modesto Fire Battalion Chief Hugo Patisaid city and county emergency crews are on alert but Dry Creek through Modesto was not in imminent danger of flooding. He said that outlook shouldn't change over the weekend unless there is a dramatic increase in rainfall.

"There is lots of room, and this is a very normal occurrence for this time of year," Patino said Friday. "But we're watching because of the rain and blustery conditions."

Strong winds caused Modesto's only power problem Friday morning in the area of McHenry, Floyd and Sylvan avenues when a palm tree frond was blown onto power lines, said Kate Hora, a Modesto Irrigation District spokeswoman. Power was restored in about 30 minutes.

National Weather Service forecasters predict a 40 percent chance of showers today for the Modesto area. Winds between 17 and 22 mph with gusts as high as 26 mph also are expected. A 90 percent chance of showers is expected on Sunday in the Modesto area with 20 to 23 mph winds and gusts as high as 26 mph.

Hora said there will be MID crews on duty throughout the weekend, day and night, to fix any power problems.

"We're always ready to go to work and restore power, especially during a storm," Hora said.

As of 9 p.m. Friday, MID gauges downtown had recorded 0.08 inches of rainfall during the day. The gauges recorded 0.26 inches of rainfall on Thursday.

Patino said Dry Creek spilled over its banks Thursday afternoon at Crabtree Road in the far eastern part of Stanislaus County. The weather service reported the creek also spilled over where the small waterway intersects with the Oakdale/Waterford Highway north of Waterford.

Flows at Morton Boulevard in Modesto were up overnight but they did not spill onto the road, he said. The gates at Morton Boulevard have been closed and traffic is blocked as a precaution.

Zella Taylor, manager of Driftwood trailer park at the confluence of Dry Creek and the Tuolumne River, was keeping her eye on the river, too. The park flooded in 1997, but the creek had yet to even reach the monitoring stage Friday morning, which Taylor said was a good sign.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, the Tuolumne River at Modesto was just above 40 feet and had peaked at 43.1 feet earlier in the day, according to the state Department of Water Resources Web site. The river's monitoring stage is 50 feet and flood stage is 55 feet.

"If it continues to rain, we could have it peaking to monitoring stage but we haven't even gotten there yet, and that's a good thing," Taylor said Friday.

The San Joaquin River, which has been flood-prone as well, was listed levels below flooding stage on Friday, according to the Department of Water Resources.

Orestimba Creek was reportedly running almost 4 feet deep, flooding Eastin Road just south of Crows Landing on Friday evening. A recently installed crossing barrier was down and blocking traffic on Eastin in both directions between West Stuhr and Anderson roads.

In Merced County, officials were taking a precautionary stance.

On Thursday, Merced city crews used sandbags to bolster a flood-prone mile along Bear Creek with help from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The city has a crew on standby for any problems that develop along a second trouble area near Charles Avenue and Highway 59, said city spokesman Mike Conway. The city and county are distributing sandbags to residents who feel they need them.

About 500 PG&E customers in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties were in the dark as of Friday evening, but crews were working diligently to restore their power, said Nicole Tam, a PG&E spokeswoman.

She said the weight of the snow was bringing down power lines, trees or other objects that could cause power failures.

PG&E sent eight crews from Modesto and Stockton to help other crews restore power to homes in the foothills and the higher elevations.

"We are working as safely as we can to restore power," Tam said.

Rain caused delays of up to two hours Friday morning at San Francisco International Airport, and officials expected such delays to continue throughout the day.

"We're on a ground-delay program from 9 a.m. to midnight," said airport duty manager Linda Perry. "It is raining very hard, so we are seeing delays for the arrivals and subsequent departures."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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