Powerful storm soaks California, Arizona - East Valley Tribune: News

Powerful storm soaks California, Arizona

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Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2004 11:40 am | Updated: 5:40 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Flooding forced scores of people to evacuate homes along Oak Creek in Sedona today, as California and Arizona are soaked by a powerful Pacific storm.

Street flooding stalled motorists in Las Vegas, and several major highways remained closed by mud and snow in Southern California, which got record rainfall Tuesday.

At least 300 people were evacuated because of flooding in low-lying areas of the Arizona tourist community of Sedona, where scenic Oak Creek rose 11 feet during the night, reaching 14 feet by midmorning. It was likely to crest at 16 1/2 feet later Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

Some homes had minor flooding and people were stranded in water-logged vehicles in Sedona, a town of some 10,000 people surrounded by towering red rock formations that draw hundreds of thousands of tourists.

A 14-mile stretch of highway through narrow Oak Creek Canyon was closed between Sedona and Flagstaff, and officials warned that additional evacuations were possible. The rain also was causing some rock slides, making it unsafe for emergency crews, authorities said.

Up to 2.4 inches of rain had fallen on parts of the rugged area of central Arizona, the weather service said.

In southern Nevada, police reported hundreds of traffic accidents around Las Vegas, where firefighters rescued several motorists from cars stalled in deep water. No serious injuries or damage were reported.

A flash-flood warning was posted in parts of Utah as Wednesday's rain added to overnight downpours. The Brian Head Resort near Cedar City in the state's southwest corner got 19 inches of snow by late morning but couldn't start its chair lifts because wind gusted to 70 mph.

In Southern California, northbound U.S. 101 remained closed for about 20 miles because of a slide in Santa Barbara County, and snow shut down Interstate 5 at Tejon Pass north of Los Angeles.

Heavy snow and high wind were possible in the Sierra Nevada of Northern California, and snow tires or chains were mandatory on major highways through the mountain range.

Los Angeles measured 5.55 inches of rain Tuesday, making it the rainiest December day on record, according to AccuWeather, which compiled National Weather Service data. The city's wettest day overall since records began in 1877 was March 22, 1938, when 5.88 inches fell.

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