California rains break all-time records, spurring floods and mudslides

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KENTFIELD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 24: A pedestrian walks on a flooded street on October 24, 2021 in Kentfield, California. A Category 5 atmospheric river is bringing heavy precipitation, high winds and power outages to the San Francisco Bay Area. The storm is expected to bring anywhere between 2 to 5 inches of rain to many parts of the area. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks through a flooded street in Kentfield, Calif., on Sunday. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Northern California saw record rainfall Sunday from an atmospheric river storm system.

Downtown Sacramento reported an all-time record 24-hour rainfall total of 5.44 inches, surpassing a mark set in 1880, officials announced early Monday.

Rains began to taper off in the region by daylight, after pounding the area the previous day. A night of relentless rain toppled trees and flooded streets. By Sunday night, many roads in downtown Sacramento were inches-deep in water, backing up traffic and leaving cars precariously passing through water that reached halfway up their tires.

Creeks overflowed near the American River, where many homeless camps are located, prompting officials to open emergency shelters.

Blue Canyon in Placer County received 10.4 inches, breaking its previous record from 1964.

And in the Bay Area, the 4.02 inches of rain that fell Sunday marked the wettest October day ever in downtown San Francisco, and the city’s fourth-wettest day in history.

About 125,000 residents across the state — from the Bay Area to Sacramento and Lake Tahoe and down to San Luis Obispo — were without power Monday morning, according to PG&E.

Power was out on the Bay Bridge around 7 a.m. — hours after video circulated of big rigs on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge being blown over by the storm.

In some areas, the rain turned to snow, creating dangerous conditions that prompted the closure of multiple major roads and passes across the state, according to the California Department of Transportation.

Along the Bay Area peninsula Monday morning, crews and homeowners were tending to downed branches in the streets, leaf-gummed gutters and toppled basketball hoops.

Large puddles formed at some roads and intersections. A 6-inch-deep pool of standing water made driving especially unnerving at the corner of El Camino and Valparaiso Avenue in Menlo Park.

Up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, however, first responders were feeling relieved.

“We dodged a bullet,” said Chief Mark Bingham of the Boulder Creek Fire Protection District. Evacuation orders had been in place over the weekend due to the risk of debris flows and flooding.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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