MERCED, Calif. – Deputies evacuated about 100 homes early Wednesday because of a storm-weakened earthen dam that appeared close to rupturing. Two levees had broken a day earlier in the Central Valley, and homes were evacuated near San Francisco because of a threat of landslides from the heavy rain.
The 12-foot earthen dam is at a golf course near Valley Springs in the Sierra foothills, surrounded by a semi-residential area of ranch homes and horse properties.
Up to 4 inches of rain had fallen in 24 hours in the area, weakening the dam, said Angus Barkhuff, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. If the dam were to fail, water would drain into a smaller pond that will likely overflow into the Calaveras River.
Teams from the Calaveras County Sheriff's Department began evacuating homes during the night, and the weather service posted a flash flood warning for the area.
Rain has been falling on Northern California for the past month and meteorologists predict continued wet weather for two more weeks.
The two levee breaks Tuesday in the agricultural Central Valley forced evacuations of residential areas and inundated farmland.
"The bad news is rain stays in the forecast basically until further notice," said Ryan Walbrun, lead forecaster at the weather service office in Monterey. The weather service has been holding regular conference calls with state disaster-management officials.
Southern California has also been getting drenched. Two people had to be rescued from swollen creeks on Tuesday: One was a man whose pickup was swept off a road into a creek in Ventura County, and the other was a 12-year-old boy who fell into a flood control channel in Los Angeles County's San Fernando Valley.
Tuesday's 1.43 inches of rain in downtown Los Angeles broke a record set in 1929, although the city's total since July 1 is only 11.85 inches, 2.3 inches below normal.