The Norman Transcript

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March 1, 2014

California storm not a drought buster

(Continued)

LOS ANGELES —

In Glendora, a city about 25 miles east of Los Angeles that sits beneath nearly 2,000 acres of steep mountain slopes stripped by fire in January, a muddy soup of debris began to fill catch basins. With the vegetation gone, little held the dirt and rock in place.

Homes were spared. Skip loaders scraped tons of mud off a road that funneled ooze, large rocks and other debris from a dam-like catch basin below the burn area down the steep roadway.

Andrew Geleris, 59, of Pomona, spent the night with his 87-year-old mother at her home near the catch basin. “I tried to talk her into evacuating yesterday,” he said, “but she’s just stubborn.”

Meteorologists posted flood watches for many other areas denuded by fires over the past two years, and also warned of potential coastal flooding.

Rain also fell along the central coast, the San Francisco Bay area and Central Valley.

Winter storm warnings were in effect in the Sierra Nevada. About 15 inches of new snow had fallen by mid-day Friday at the University of California, Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab located at 6,900 feet elevation.

Earlier in the week, the state Department of Water Resources found that the Sierra snowpack had water content at only 24 percent of average for the date.

“All these (storm) events move us a little higher up, but we’re still well below average,” said researcher Randall Osterhuber.

Farmer Ray Gene Veldhuis, who grows almonds, walnuts and pistachios and runs a 2,300-cow dairy in the Central Valley’s Merced County, welcomed the wet weather but knew it would not rescue California from drought.

“Hopefully, they keep coming,” Veldhuis said of the storms. “If not, we’ll deal with the hand we’re dealt.”

In neighboring Fresno County, a man was struck by lightning while looking for work at an oil field, officials said. He was found unconscious and taken to the hospital.

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