A series of storms continued to pummel the Modesto area with rain, snow and even some hail Wednesday, keeping street crews, roofing companies and law enforcement hustling from job to job. The rain started up again in Modesto late in the morning today, and by 9 p.m. the Modesto Irrigation District had recorded 0.54 inches downtown.
At Modesto High School, an administrator used a bullhorn to direct students around the huge puddle covering H Street, which bisects the campus.
Modesto got wetter than any Jan. 20 on MID's records, 1.1 inches, breaking a mark of 0.81 inches, set in 1964.
The combination of more rain on saturated ground and 40 mph wind cut off power, flooded streets and felled trees.
One of those trees fell at Jeff Deardorff's house on El Vista Avenue in Modesto.
The 46-year-old said he heard "cracking and a big boom" about 8 a.m.
"I thought it was a big collision, then I looked out and saw the tree covering the roof and the house."
The tree fell across the driveway, taking out a fence and part of the roof, said Deardorff, who rents the home.
Fortunately, Deardorff's son had left for work a half-hour earlier, taking with him the 1998 Ford Explorer that Deardorff just bought.
Allen Deardorff, 22, works in the Bay Area and studies architectural drafting in college.
"This is a good field lesson for him," Deardorff said.
The outlook calls for more rain in the valley and snow in the foothills. A winter storm warning is in effect through Friday morning, according to the National Weather Serv-ice.
Power failures were reported throughout the area, although the foothills fared worse than the valley.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. reported more than 5,000 Tuolumne County customers were without power Wednesday afternoon; there were about 50 power failures in the company's Stanislaus County areas.
A power failure Wednesday morning at Columbia College closed the campus and canceled a night basketball game.
The Turlock Irrigation District suffered blackouts in several spots, most of them short-lived, said spokeswoman Michelle Reimers. A few customers in La Grange were still without power Wednesday evening. As many as 1,400 TID customers in Ceres lost power for up to 10 hours before it was restored early Wednesday, Reimers said.
Modesto Irrigation District spokeswoman Kate Hora reported a similar situation there: "outages here, there and everywhere."
Downed trees hitting power lines and lines blowing into each other sent crews scrambling throughout the day, but in most cases electricity was restored within an hour or two, she said.
Snow was reported as low as 1,700 feet, between Sonora and Jamestown, Wednesday evening. It was piling about a foot high at Diamond Jim's restaurant on Highway 108 in Mi-Wuk Village, 15 miles east of Sonora.
"The roads are clear, though. They've been keeping up on that," said bartender Christy Briggs. "It's beautiful, but it's cold."
Conditions in the bar were a little friendlier.
"It's nice and toasty in here," Briggs said.
Highway 33 closed
Wednesday evening, the California Highway Patrol closed Highway 33 in western Stanislaus County at Ingram Creek between Vernalis and Westley because of rising water. Officers were diverting traffic.
Streets flooded in several areas of Modesto; workers closed part of Tully Road when it went underwater.
"We've got widespread flooding throughout the streets," said Allen Lagarbo, deputy public works director for the city of Modesto. "The rains just keep coming."
He said the city's rock well system takes 24 to 48 hours to drain, and with the repeated storms, the rock wells haven't had time to catch up. Since the rain began Sunday, Modesto has had 2.41 inches of rain.
"There's no way Modesto's going to escape flooding with rains like this," he said.
A few miles to the south, Turlock Municipal Services Director Dan Madden said his drainage system is working.
"We know how to handle our storm water," he said. "We've had crews out chasing water pretty heavily, and we're staying ahead of the game at this point."
Streets in some older neighborhoods flooded, but the water receded pretty quickly, Madden said. And the storms haven't caused any other major problems. "We've had lots of tree limbs falling down here and there, but it's not as bad as most of us are thinking it could be."
In the past two days of rain, California Highway Patrol officer Eric Parsons said, "our guys are pretty much going from call to call. Before they clear one scene, they are getting a call to respond to another call."
He said CHP Modesto office managers and support staff who normally don't work patrol are helping out when calls for service increase.
The storm also kept roofing repair companies hopping.
Tim Glass, general manager of Armor Roofing in Modesto, said Wednesday was "like any day when it rains hard and the wind blows, we run like crazy."
Tuesday, Armor got more calls in the Merced area; he was on the job until 3 a.m. Wednesday. Later that day, crews dealt with leaks in Modesto and Stockton. They repaired what they could, and battened down what they couldn't.
"Some things you can't repair with this amount of rain," Glass said. "It needs to be opened up. Sometimes the best thing is plastic."
Elsewhere in Northern California, authorities advised of considerable avalanche danger on steep, north-facing slopes of the central Sierra after as much as 30 inches of snow fell since Sunday. Danger was moderate elsewhere.
Blizzard conditions cut visibility to near zero on U.S. Interstate 80 over Donner Summit and blowing snow made driving dangerous.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.