BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The first winter-like storm of the season brought rain and snow to California on Monday, triggering traffic accidents including a 20-vehicle crash in the southern San Joaquin Valley when gusts ahead of the front whipped up dust.
The big collision happened shortly after noon on southbound State Route 99 a few miles south of Bakersfield, said California Highway Patrol Scott Jobinger. Traffic backed up for three miles.
Five people with minor injuries were taken to hospitals, Kern County Fire Department spokesman Tyler Townsend said. There were no serious injuries.
The cold front from the Pacific Northwest dropped a half-inch of rain in San Francisco and an inch or more in other Bay Area cities. Power outages and traffic accidents were widespread across the region.
Farther south, Monterey reported more than 1 ½ inches of rain.
By early evening, the storm had moved into Southern California.
Stormy weather also dumped rain across most of northern Nevada, caused temporary power outages around Reno and Lake Tahoe and triggered a strong wind advisory as far south as Las Vegas.
Chains or snow tires were required on most mountain highways around Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border. The Kirkwood Mountain Resort in California reported a foot of snow.
Elsewhere in California's mountains, storm warnings for heavy snow were in effect until late night for the Sierra Nevada from Yosemite to Kings Canyon. About 5 inches of snow had fallen above 9,000 feet by early evening and snow levels were expected to fall to 5,000 feet.
Snow in the Sierra is vital to drought-stricken California, which significantly relies on a winter snowpack to feed reservoirs.
The storm also brought risk of trouble to areas hit hard by wildfires earlier this year. Flash flood warnings were posted in Yolo, Lake and Colusa counties, where heavy rain had the potential to unleash debris flows from burn areas, the weather service said.
Among other accidents, the California Highway Patrol reported that a big rig carrying 80,000 pounds of frozen chickens overturned on westbound Highway 580 in Livermore, backing up traffic for miles. No serious injuries were reported and it was unclear whether foul weather played a role in the crash.