Local

Gusty rainstorm batters area

Snow forms a wintry backdrop on the hills west of Modesto on Monday morning, January 28, 2008. (Bart Ah You/The Modesto Bee)
Snow forms a wintry backdrop on the hills west of Modesto on Monday morning, January 28, 2008. (Bart Ah You/The Modesto Bee) Modesto Bee

High winds blew down seven stately eucalyptus trees in Beard Brook Park and caused power blackouts around Modesto on Sunday, but the worst appears to be over, officials said.

This week, Modestans can expect the weather to be "pretty nasty and cold and drizzly," said Weather Underground meteorologist Tim Roche. High temperatures will be in the upper 40s to low 50s. Every day will bring a chance of rain, with a thunderstorm possible this afternoon.

"Modesto is just going to keep getting hit with the edges of these little systems that keep dropping down, bringing no significant precipitation," he said. "It's not going to be all that exciting."

Storms around the state have caused deadly avalanches, flooded streets and set off mud and rock slides in recent days. Some areas have received more moisture in a week than during the entire rainy season last year. The system soaked parts of Northern California, and the weather service posted winter storm warnings for parts of the Sierra Nevada. A winter storm warning remained in effect through 10 a.m. today around Lake Tahoe, where the storm was expected to dump as much as 3 feet of snow.

Around Los Angeles, as much as 3 inches of rain had fallen by early afternoon, according to forecasters.

By 9 p.m. Sunday, downtown Modesto had received 0.66 inches of rain, according to the Modesto Irrigation District.

The trees crashed down about 4 p.m., said Modesto Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Johansen, bursting a water main and closing South Morton Boulevard temporarily. The trees, which were about 30 years old, collapsed over a hill into the park and away from the road.

"It sounded like thunder moved through here," Johansen said witnesses told him.

Modesto Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Director James E. Niskanen said high winds and saturated soil likely contributed to the trees falling.

"When the ground's wet, the roots don't hold as well," he said.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory Sunday at 3 p.m. for the Southern Sacramento Valley, Northern San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Sunday's wind and rain, and likely some lightning, led to scattered blackouts around Modesto from 3 to 4 p.m., MID spokes- woman Kate Hora said.

One was in the airport neighborhood off South Santa Cruz Avenue and Oregon Drive. As of 8 p.m., the cause of the blackout wasn't known.

A blackout on the east side knocked out a circuit at the Reinway Avenue substation in Waterford, which supplies power to about 400 customers, Hora said. The MID also had a blackout near Albers and Kemper roads. Power was restored to these areas by 5:25 p.m.

A Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman said 8,025 customers in the company's Yosemite division had reported blackouts Sunday as of 4:25 p.m. Most of the affected customers were in the Madera and Chowchilla areas, said spokesman J.D. Guidi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at eraguso@modbee.com or 578-2235.

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