Record snow and rain stretches across parched U.S. west

A field covered in snow. Courtesy of Pixabay

(Reuters) – Record snow and rain pummeled the western United States on Thursday, raising the threat of floods and freezing temperatures in some areas across the region, weather officials said.

Winter storm warnings were in effect in parts of California, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah following days of snowfall and cold.

California, where a five-year drought has triggered dozens of wildfires, was bracing for floods after heavy rainfall earlier in the week. Rivers are expected to overflow in northern and central parts of the state at a rate last seen in December 2005, the National Weather Service said.

Snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which provides a critical source of water for California and has receded in recent years, is forecast to be twice the monthly average for January.

Snowstorms battered Oregon, which was in the grips of a moderate drought last year, prompting the closure of highways and schools.

In Medford, Oregon, a winter storm dumped more than eight inches of snow in a single day, the most the city has recorded over a 24-hour period in nearly a century, KTVL News 10 reported.

The Oregon State Police reported that its field office, located about 50 miles southeast of Portland, was buried under at least five feet of snow.

An 8-year-old girl was killed in the coastal area of Otis, Oregon, when a storm bringing high winds and snow caused a tree to crash onto her home earlier in the week, CBS reported.

In Boise, the capital city in the northwestern state of Idaho, 6.5 inches of snow fell on Wednesday, the most ever recorded on that date, the Weather Service said. Snow depth in the area was 15 inches, another record, it said.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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