Local News

Saturday, Mar 17 2012 08:35 PM

Storm produces record rain total

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

If you think we had a lot of rain Saturday, you're right -- and wrong. The storm dropped .81 of an inch of rain in Bakersfield through 5 p.m. Saturday, nearly double the record for this date previously set in 1982, National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Sanger said.

"The storm came in a little faster than we expected, but the heaviest rain was to the north," Sanger said.

So yes, a record here. But Madera -- "the winner of the rain derby" -- had three times as much rain, with 2.56 inches this storm, the meteorologist said.

Bakersfield's season total stands at 2.85 inches of rain, while normal to date would be 5.20 inches. But it was enough to force motorists to maneuver flooded roads and dodge tumbleweeds on the highways.

For example, flooding impacted traffic in the area of Fairfax and Edison roads about 11:25 a.m., while at about the same time Granite Road just south of Road Mountain Road was closed because of mud and rocks, according to the California Highway Patrol website. Kern County Fire Department crews placed about 65 sandbags at the front of a warehouse at Calvary Bible Church, 48 Manor St., at about 9:25 a.m., working with about six church members for about two hours, a fire department news release said.

The water coming from a nearby creek required firefighters to use a fire vehicle to pump water away from the warehouse. Damage was about $5,000, but about $70,000 in potential damage was prevented, the news release said.

On Interstate 5 at Stockdale Highway, drivers reported they had to swerve to avoid large tumbleweeds in the road at about 11:20 a.m. Later, about 3:30 p.m., tumbleweeds dotted southbound Highway 99 just north of Highway 119, the CHP reported.

Weather also impacted power. As of about 6 p.m. PG&E crews were addressing 36 power outages for 2,200 customers total in the utility's Kern division, spokeswoman Jana Morris said. The biggest outage was in an area southeast of Taft along Hill Road south of Buena Vista Street, which included about 1,630 customers.

The two next largest outages were in Famoso and the area of Alfred Harrell Highway and Round Mountain Road. The outages happened between 2:30 and 3 p.m., Morris said. By 8 p.m., there were 20 outages affecting about 367 customers.

"We'll continue to have our crews work throughout the night until repairs are complete," Morris said.

Snow flurries were reported on the summit over the Grapevine Saturday afternoon, along with high winds as the evening progressed. About 8:15 p.m., moderate snow was reported. A winter storm warning is in effect until 11 a.m. Sunday, with a chance of showers ranging from 70 percent in the morning to 60 percent in the afternoon.

In the mountains, snow is likely with a high temperature near 33 degrees and wind gusts at 23 mph.

After Sunday? Expect the showers to taper off and the sun to break through. Stay safe

* The Kern County Fire Department said Saturday that its stations will have sandbags available to homeowners for emergency use if more flooding occurs.

* Call 1-800-GAS-ROAD for the latest road conditions. Or check dot.ca.gov.

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