Portland buried in snow

Rescue workers using boats Wednesday evacuated at least 30 Northern California farmland residents trapped in flooded homes and normally rainy Portland, Ore., was slammed with a rare foot of snow as a powerful storm system battered five western U.S. states.

In Nevada, at least 20,000 people near Lake Tahoe had no electricity as the storm fed by an "atmospheric river" weather phenomenon that sucked water from the Pacific Ocean downed trees and caused mudslides that damaged power lines.

The flooding in Northern California happened when water rushed into more than two dozen homes in San Benito County after a creek overflowed, KTVU reported.

The television station's reporting crew heard an elderly woman yelling from her window that she wanted to be rescued and that her husband had recent surgery and could not walk out of the house.

Forecasters said rain and snow would continue through Thursday, but the brunt of the system had passed after delivering the heaviest rain in a decade to parts Northern California and Nevada and surprising Portland with what forecasters said was its biggest snowfall since 2008.

Parts of California's wine country were among the hardest hit, with up to 13 inches of rain over three days. The massive rain and snowfall that prompted a rare blizzard warning in parts of the Sierra is helping much of Northern California recover from a six-year drought.

The snowstorm in Oregon, and southwest Washington state toppled trees, closed schools and cut off power to thousands. In central Washington state, the Grant County Sheriff's Office warned motorists to stay off roads, saying snow drifts of 3 to 5 feet made them impassable.

The intensity of the snowstorm came as a surprise to meteorologists, most of whom expected no more than 4 inches.

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