LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rain and snow battered large swathes of California Friday, forcing statewide highway closures and a major dam to open its spillway for the first time in nearly four years.

About 9,000 people were under evacuation orders in the state, California Office of Emergency Services Director Nancy Ward said.

In Tulare County, evacuation orders have been issued for parts of the small community of Springville and the city of Exeter due to flooding and overflowing waterways, the sheriff’s office said. Evacuation warnings were issued along the Tule River in Porterville, population 62,000.

President Joe Biden on Friday approved a state of emergency Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request, prompting federal assistance to «state, tribal and local response efforts» caused by the ongoing «severe winter storms, flooding, landslides and landslides,» he said the White House.

“We’ve been here about 20 years, and we haven’t really seen anything up to this point,” said Eric Diekmann of Soquel in Santa Cruz County, whose home sits across a road that collapsed.

Even after flooding concerns subside late Friday, more severe weather is expected over the weekend and into the coming days, National Weather Service meteorologist David Lawrence said.

John Bays clears snow from his driveway after a series of storms, in Lake Arrowhead, California, on March 8, 2023.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

«We will see additional rounds of rain and heavy snow in the mountains across much of northern and central California as the weekend progresses,» Lawrence told reporters at the OES headquarters in the Sacramento suburb of Mather. «And we’re also likely to see this weather pattern continue as we move into at least the first half of next week.»

Weeks of relentless snowfall have kept the state transportation agency busy clearing roads with 45 million cubic yards of snow in the past month, enough to «fill more than 100 Rose Bowls,» said the deputy chief of the California Department of Transportation. , Mike Keever.

Recent storms prompted the state to release water from the main spillway into Lake Oroville at noon Friday, and snowmelt is likely to further increase lake levels in the coming months.

it’s just him water for the second time has been freed from the reconstructed spillway, following the 2017 disaster that changed life in the Gold Country and forced the evacuation of more than 180,000 people.

People walk on a trail at the Golden Gate Overlook in San Francisco.
People walk along a path at the Golden Gate Overlook in San Francisco on Thursday.Jeff Chiu/AP

Some of California’s most famous and busiest highways were closed at times Friday due to flooding.

  • A portion of scenic highway 1 in Monterey County it was closed due to falling rocks, water and debris.
  • US Highway 101 southbound near the Gilroy State Garlic Center could not be used.
  • interstate 580a major highway through the East Bay of San Francisco, finally reopened at noon.
  • Main Street in Soquel, a community of about 9,900 in Santa Cruz County, was leveled. In Kernville, northeast of Bakersfield, evacuation orders were issued due to the rising Kern River.

State officials have warned California residents that any amount of moving water can be dangerous.

As little as 6 inches of moving water can easily topple a person, while a foot of water has the force to wash away a car, the San Luis Obispo Office of Emergency Services warned Central Coast residents Friday.

«Remember, do not walk, swim or drive through floodwaters and avoid non-essential travel today.» the agency said.

Transportation department officials urged state residents to check their weather before heading out.

The department warned drivers to be «prepared for delays and bring extra food, water, blankets and other essentials, and to bring mobile phone chargers.»

The heaviest rain had left Northern California on Friday afternoon, but not before dumping around 3 to 4 inches of rain on parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the National Weather Service.

Flood watches were in effect for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties until 4 a.m. Saturday, but the National Weather Service in Oxnard said late Friday that the heavy rain had ended and the waters began to recede.

More than 10 inches of rain fell on Rocky Butte in San Luis Obispo County at 10 p.m. said the weather service, although other areas were lower. In the town of Cambria, where evacuation orders were in place for some residents but were later lifted, more than 5 inches of rain fell.

In Paso Robles, Chimney Rock Road disappeared. A San Luis Obispo County spokesman said they had problems with the road since January and had temporary fixes, but they failed Friday morning.

Fresno County first responders performed rescues, including three women, two of whom were 80 and one 104, who were trapped in their home after a collapsed culvert, Sheriff John Zanoni said Friday.

Challenging weather conditions are also expected to bring heavy snow to parts of the northern Plains on Friday, as well as parts of the upper Mississippi Valley on Saturday.

Showers are also expected to develop in parts of the mid-Mississippi Valley, and snowfall is expected to reach the Great Lakes by Sunday.

On Friday, a storm system dumped snow and rain across the Great Lakes, Northeast and Southeast with totals including 12 inches in Mequon, Wisconsin, 10 inches in Milwaukee, 9 inches in Woodstock, Illinois and 4 inches around Detroit.

Rain and snowfall will continue to move from the eastern Great Lakes through the Mid-Atlantic region.

Western New York and northeastern Pennsylvania could receive 4 to 8 inches of snow.