LOS ANGELES (AP) — A drenched California emerged Wednesday from a powerful multiday storm that unleashed rain, snow and raging floodwaters, leaving one person dead and two others missing .
Lingering showers, mountain snow and gusty winds were tapering off, and the National Weather Service issued overnight frost and freeze advisories due to the cold airmass behind the storm.
The tempest unleashed heavy downpours Tuesday in Southern California, where one person was found dead after runoff surging down a creek channel swept six people away in the city of Ontario. Three were rescued by firefighters but two others remained missing.
In Orange County, the Republican Party urged members to vote early amid the Election Day downpours. A marquee race there pitted Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, a star of the party’s progressive wing, against Republican Scott Baugh. Porter took an early double-digit lead but by midnight she and Baugh were divided by less than a percentage point with nearly half the votes still uncounted.
A tornado touched down a few miles outside the town of Galt near Sacramento at 1:40 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. No major damage was reported.
The storm continued to affect travel Wednesday on highways through the Sierra Nevada after heavy snow and whiteout conditions. Chain controls remained in affect and big rigs were restricted altogether on some sections of routes through the towering mountain range.
The potent fall storms are a promising start to California’s wet season, although experts say it will take much more precipitation to reverse the impacts of the state’s historic drought.
UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab reported that this week’s storm dropped 34.3 inches (87 centimeters) of snow by Wednesday, and that the the eight-day total was 54 inches (130.5 cm).
Among Lake Tahoe snow sport resorts, Mt. Rose and Boreal announced plans to open for the season on Friday. The Eastern Sierra resort of Mammoth Mountain, which opened last weekend, reported totals from the departing storm ranged from 49-70 inches (124-178 cm).
Annual snowfall in the Sierra normally provides about a third of the state’s water when it melts. Last year, however, California had powerful storms in October and December but experienced its driest January through April on record.