Unrelenting rain and snow hammer Northern California; death toll rises

Northern California endured another day of heavy rain and snow that closed major roadways, created white-out blizzard conditions and prompted warnings of “life-threatening” avalanches in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The deadly storm system is expected to continue through Thursday, with some higher elevations expected to see up to 20 inches of snow over the course of the week. Several key rivers have overflowed their banks, and more flooding is expected.

In Sonoma County, about 3,000 residents were asked to evacuate as the Russian River swelled, damaging some homes. Along the Cosumnes River in the town of Wilton, about 2,000 people were told to move to higher ground.

A 20-year-old man was found dead Monday inside an overturned car submerged in a creek in Novato, authorities said.

The Marin County Sheriff's Office said investigators think severe weather conditions, speed and a lack of tire tread could have resulted in the solo crash.

The crash was reported about 8:35 a.m. after a resident found the overturned vehicle in the creek in the 5000 block of Novato Boulevard.

When authorities arrived, they found Jose Enrique Hernandez dead in the Nissan Altima, according to a Sheriff's Office statement.

Authorities believe he died overnight, possibly after leaving work on Sunday night. He was last seen driving alone, the Sheriff's Office said.

An autopsy will be performed later this week.

Three other deaths — including a woman who was killed by a fallen tree — are also believed to be tied to the storms.


Weeks of rain are rapidly reviving California's drought-ravaged lakes

Once teetering, Mono Lake is revived by heavy rains, snow

Storms are making a dent in California's drought; 7 feet of snow expected in some areas