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Third major storm moving into Northern California

By: JOHN S. MARSHALL,Associated Press
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Another major storm moving into Northern California was expected to bring more pouring rain, flooding and additional problems to an area already soaked after two major storms, forecasters said Saturday.

Residents of Northern California enjoyed just a bit of a respite, but the next storm — the third in a string of powerful weather systems to hit the region since Wednesday — is expected to force at least two rivers over their banks after it arrives Saturday evening, National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Strudley said.

With rivers and streams already running high and the ground saturated from the previous storms, the National Weather Service issued flood warnings for both the Napa and Russian rivers, two rivers north of San Francisco with a history of flooding.

“Some roads will become inundated and some of the agricultural areas will take on some water,” Strudley said.

The Napa River was expected to flood near St. Helena and Napa around noon on Sunday, while the Russian River was expected to flood near Guerneville early Monday morning, Strudley said.

A flash flood watch was also in effect for a wide area of Northern California through Sunday evening.

At the peak of Friday’s storm, thousands of people were without power, but by Saturday Pacific Gas & Electric was reporting only scattered outages, spokesman J.D. Guidi said.

The utility had extra crews standing by in anticipation of new outages caused by falling branches and strong winds, Guidi said.

Friday’s stormy weather may be behind a crash that involved several cars on Interstate 280 outside of San Francisco on Saturday morning, as well as the death of a Pacific Gas & Electric worker in West Sacramento who was killed after his truck crashed into a traffic signal pole during the stormy weather Friday.

With the ground saturated with water, increasing the possibility of trees and branches falling onto roadways, and the roads expected to be slick, California Highway Patrol officials urged drivers to be extra cautious.

Officials were also warning people to be careful along beaches.

A high surf advisory was issued by the weather service, with swells expected to be 14 to 16 feet along the Northern California coast. In Southern California, high surf was predicted in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.

In San Diego, the Ocean Beach Municipal Pier was closed because of big waves and high tides.

Elsewhere in the West, a state of emergency was declared in Reno, Sparks and Washoe County in Nevada due to expected flooding as a storm packing heavy rain and strong winds swept through the area.

Reno city spokeswoman Michele Anderson said public servants would be working overtime through the weekend to control what’s expected to be the worst flooding there since 2005. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning along the Truckee River.

The weather also prompted cancellations of Christmas parades and tree lightings in Sparks and Truckee, just across the border from California.

Also, a storm rushed through southern Oregon this week, lingering inland over the Rogue Valley and dropping record rainfall. Forecasters said the region should expect more storms over the next few days.