Hundreds of homes were evacuated in northern Nevada and stranded motorists were pulled from cars stuck on flooded Northern California roads Sunday as thunderstorms arrived as part of a massive winter storm that could be the biggest to slam the region in more than a decade. Crews in California cleared trees and debris Sunday following mudslides caused by steady rain accompanying the system, the AP reports. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that in Calaveras County, the storm toppled the famous Pioneer Cabin tree, a giant sequoia with a "drive through" tunnel in its middle.
In Nevada, emergency officials voluntarily evacuated a total of 400 homes affecting about 1,300 residents in a south Reno neighborhood Sunday afternoon as the Truckee River began to leave its banks and drainage ditches started to overflow. In Northern California, toppled trees on Sunday crashed against cars and homes or blocked roads in the San Francisco Bay area, and officials rescued stranded motorists from cars stuck on flooded roads. All roads leading to Yosemite National Park's valley floor remained closed amid fears that the Merced River could overflow its banks and cause major flooding. "It's kind of surreal how empty the park is. There's nobody here," said a freelance photographer. Two major highways across the Sierra Nevada were partially closed because of mudslides, and officials warn that a second storm is expected to hit the already drenched area Monday night. (Read more extreme weather stories.)