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Wintry storm pummels West Coast

©Associated Press
November 9, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO -- A winterlike storm battered Northern California and Nevada on Friday, with heavy rain snarling traffic and strong wind knocking out power to thousands of people. More than 3 feet of snow was forecast in the Sierra Nevada.

The storm was the second to blow through the region this week and another, lighter system was expected this weekend. The first storm barreled east, bringing gusty wind to Wyoming and blizzardlike conditions to the Colorado mountains.

The storms left up to 3 inches of rain in the San Francisco Bay area and 11/2 inches as far south as Los Angeles. The mountains got more, including up to 8 inches in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Flooded freeways were a commuters' nightmare, with jackknifed trucks and scores of fender-benders. In Temecula, southeast of Los Angeles, a charter bus ferrying gamblers from an Indian casino overturned, injuring dozens of people.

Along the coast, 12-foot waves pummeling Southern California were a boon to surfers. But waves reached 30 feet farther north and officials powered down the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in San Luis Obispo, fearing seaweed tossed up by the surf would clog the intake pipes of the cooling system.

The National Weather Service reported a wind gust of 134 mph a few miles northwest of Tahoe City, Calif., and gusts of 84 mph were recorded Thursday south of Gardnerville, Nev.

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