Local News

Friday, Feb 28 2014 09:15 AM

North- and southbound Highway 99 lanes reopen

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    A firefighter surveys the scene of this big-rig crash Friday morning on Highway 58 and 99, near Brundage Lane.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    A firefighter stands near the big-rig crash Friday morning at highways 58 and 99.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The CHP shut down Highway 99 in both directions Friday morning after the big-rig crash on 58 and 99.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Emergency crews responded immediately to this big-rig crash Friday morning on HIghway 58 and 99.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    California Highway Patrol officers work the crash scene Friday morning on Highway 58 and 99.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    It wasn't that windy Friday, but this umbrella was still being used to keep the raindrops off this pedestrian crossing Truxtun Avenue Friday.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Many planned ahead with their umbrellas on bus stops in Bakersfield including these folks Friday on Chester Avenue.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Bundled up for the rainy morning Friday, this pedestrian had the right idea with the hood while walking in east Bakersfield during the predicted rain storm.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The traffic was light on a wet Highway 178 on the east side of Bakersfield during Friday's rainy morning.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Jennifer Landa, left, and Tino Hernandez walk in the rain downtown Friday morning carrying birthday balloons that Jennifer received from a friend for her birthday.

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    An accident on the overpass to Highway 58 from Higheay 99 caused traffic to back up on southbound Highway 99. At right, vehicles try to merge from Rosedale Highway to 99.

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Looking north from the southbound lanes of Highway 99 near Rosedale Highway, traffic is stopped due to an accident on the overpass to Highway 58 from Highway 99.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Emergency personnel take an accident victim to the hospital via Hall Ambulance Friday morning around 10 a.m. on Rosedale HIghway, in front of Costco, west of Highway 99.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Kern County firefighters help clean the scene of a two-vehicle accident on Rosedale Highway, Friday, around 10 a.m. west of Highway 99.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Bakersfield’s big rain did not materialize overnight Thursday, but Mother Nature tried to make up for it on Friday as gusting winds uprooted trees and knocked out power, and pelting rain flooded some local streets.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jim Andersen said the earlier system dropped a stingy 0.11 of an inch of rain at Meadows Field between 10 a.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. today. Add that to the measly 0.02 of an inch that blessed Bakersfield on Wednesday and it adds up to nearly a half-inch less than the 0.6 of an inch the weather service predicted for Bakersfield.

But skied darkened Friday afternoon and much more rain hit Bakersfield and surrounding communities.

The NWS said there’s even the possibility of “a tornado or two” in the valley.
In an email update sent at 12:23 p.m., the NWS said strong thunderstorms are developing across the San Joaquin Valley and that activity will continue into the evening hours.

“A few will be severe with damaging winds, frequent cloud-to-ground lightning, heavy downpours, and 1-inch or larger hail,” the release said. “A tornado or two can’t be ruled out.”

Kern County Fire Capt. Eric Coughran said his department has received numerous calls from cities surrounding Bakersfield.

He said Taft, Delano, Rosamond and Wasco have suffered consequences of the storm. Numerous power lines have fallen and power outages have been reported.

Coughran said crews responded to a stuck elevator at the Medical Arts building in Delano, but nobody was in it.

Delano police were dealing with several fallen trees Friday afternoon.

Patrol Commander Raul Alvizo said traffic Highway 99 near Delano was slow due to flooding and an accident. He said city workers were moving fallen trees from streets.

Bakersfield Assistant Public Works Director Nick Fidler said he was unaware of any significant flooding problems in a conversation shortly before 2 p.m. Friday — but the city does sometimes find itself vulnerable to even short periods of hard rain.

“In a flash flood where it comes down hard for five to 10 minutes, we’ll always get some standing water on the shoulder, and some intersections, we’ll maybe get some water through them,” Fidler said. “Right now it looks like it’s subsided.”

Earlier Friday, both the northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 99 through Bakersfield were closed after a fiery crash involving a big rig.

At about 7:35 a.m., a big rig on the Highway 58 overpass over Highway 99 jackknifed and caught fire, and part of the cab was hanging over the side of the overpass. Fuel and antifreeze leaked onto the northbound lanes.

Traffic was diverted to Golden State Highway.

CHP cruisers, tow trucks, Caltrans vehicles and fire engines from both the Bakersfield and Kern County fire departments were on the overpass as of 9:30 a.m. The cab had been removed but the rest of the rig still sat on the overpass.

All the highway lanes reopened just after noon.

Another crash occurred earlier Friday at Highway 99 at Rosedale Highway, the CHP reported. A big rig collided with another vehicle in the southbound lanes at 7:06 a.m., blocking all lanes.

Other incidents reported by the CHP Friday morning included: a vehicle spinning out of control on northbound I-5 just south of Lebec School Road; four vehicles involved in a crash on Highway 99 by the Highway 46 offramp; and four vehicles involved in a crash on westbound Highway 58 by the East Brundage Lane onramp.

So why was Bakersfield shorted on what meteorologists call “precip” Friday morning?

Andersen blamed the rain shadow. No it’s not a Cat Stevens song, it’s a phenomenon created by mountains standing in the path of a storm, which can block or reduce rainfall on the shadow side of the moving weather system. In the case of this series of storms, the barrier is the mountain range south of Bakersfield.

That’s why Pine Mountain Club, located in the southern mountains, received an estimated 1.61 inches overnight, and parts of Fresno saw a half-inch of rain.
Bakersfield, Andersen said, could get close to one-quarter inch Friday afternoon and into Friday night.

 

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