January 7, 2008 / 2:50 AM / 12 years ago

California on flood watch after powerful storms

LOS ANGELES, Jan 6 (Reuters) - California, where more than 100,000 homes remained without power on Sunday after powerful storms, could still face flooding and mudslides in some areas through Monday, according to weather officials.

The U.S. National Weather Service said flood watches were in effect through early Monday for Southern California and the central coast, particularly in areas hit last year by wildfires.

"The hillsides are so saturated in the burn areas, that even if we don’t see as much rain, it could cause mudslides and flooding," said Carol Singleton, a spokeswoman for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Singleton said more than 100,000 Northern California homes remained without power one day after nearly 3 million people experienced power disruptions statewide due to powerful storms that battered three Western states.

"Certainly the storm has wound down for the Sierra Nevada (Mountains) and the focus has now shifted to Southern California," said U.S. National Weather Service spokeswoman Jane Hollingsworth.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services reported two confirmed storm-related fatalities in California on Saturday.

Singleton said 25 utility crews were on loan from San Diego county to help with utility restoration in Northern California.

"They had so many power poles down, they’re bringing in some crews from Southern California to help with those repairs," she said.

Near Reno, Nevada, on Saturday, a canal levee broke, flooding an estimated 800 homes and causing some 3,500 residents to evacuate by helicopter and boat, according to Nevada Department of Public Safety spokesman said.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski on Saturday declared a state of emergency in Umatilla County in the northeastern corner of that state due to high winds that ravaged the area.

The first of three storms swept through Northern California on Friday, blowing scaffolding off buildings and shutting down streets in San Francisco.

Big trucks were barred from the Golden Gate Bridge, due to strong winds, while mountains in the eastern part of the state were hit by major snowfall and strong wind gusts.

In Colorado, snow slides and avalanches from the same Pacific storm that slammed California have closed mountain roads and passes.

In Southwestern Colorado, snow slides and ground blizzards forced the closure of several mountain passes including the road leading to the Silverton Mountain ski area, according to a spokeswoman with the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.

Local media also reported that 6 snowmobilers had been missing since Friday in the mountains on the New Mexico and Colorado border but there was no official confirmation.

(Reporting by Sue Zeidler, Editing by Sandra Maler)

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