Heavy rain and snowfall has hit parts of California, Nevada and Oregon early on Wednesday, forcing school closings and causing flooding along already swollen waterways, officials say.

Portland, Oregon, residents woke up on Wednesday to find roughly a foot of snow on the ground, meteorologist Bob Oravec of the Weather Prediction Centre said.

Schools throughout the region cancelled Wednesday classes, including the Portland Public Schools district, which has about 50,000 students.

The snow blanketed roadways, hampering travel in the Pacific Northwest city.

Near California’s state capital, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday advised residents of Wilton, a community of more than 5,000 people, to evacuate their homes because of anticipated flooding along the Cosumnes River.

During all the rainfall, a small tornado touched down in the Sacramento area on Tuesday, twisting two metal awnings and stripping limbs off trees, Oravec said.

The heavy rains forced officials to open a series of floodgates on the Sacramento River for the first time in 11 years on Tuesday to divert high water around the capital city and into a special drainage channel, said Lauren Hersh, a spokeswoman for the state Water Resources Department.

The National Weather Service had several flood advisories in effect on Wednesday for areas of Northern California.

It also had a blizzard warning for ski resort towns in the greater Lake Tahoe area, including Truckee and South Lake Tahoe, California, and neighbouring Nevada enclaves of Stateline and Incline Village.

 In Nevada, the Truckee River, which runs through Reno, was just above flood stage on Wednesday morning, but the water level was expected to go down soon, Oravec said.

The rainfall along the US west coast was weakening on Wednesday, and the weather service expected it to end by Thursday night.


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