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Rain Douses Parched Calif. as Snow and Ice Persist in Northwest

<p>Ample rainfall helps and hurts California while Oregon and Washington transition from four days of dangerous ice and snow.</p>
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A four-day lashing of snow and ice in Oregon and Washington will finally change to rain on Sunday, as Northern California continues to enjoy a dousing the state desperately needs.

California's Department of Public Health recently described 17 communities as dangerously low on water, making the wet storm system that moved in on Thursday a welcome relief.

The storm has dumped more than 11 inches of rain on parts of Marin County and Sonoma County by Saturday night, while San Francisco and San Jose recorded 1 to 3 inches, said National Weather Service forecaster Bob Benjamin.

The area can expect another “steady plume of Pacific moisture” on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

While ample rainfall in the area is at least putting a dent in the drought, the wet weather is also causing floods on roads and streams left vulnerable by the dry spell.

In one instance, the driver of a propane truck lost control on a slick highway in Sacramento valley, according to NBC Bay Area — but fortunately the truck had been emptied of the explosive gas.

Roads also remained dangerous in regions of Oregon and Washington as the Northwest dealt with its fourth consecutive day of ice and snow downfalls.

Oregon highways had varied from jammed to closed since Thursday and while every road remained open Sunday, many were still ice and snow-covered, officials said. Truck drivers were required to put chains on their tires, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Three deaths in Oregon were “potentially a result of exposure to the extreme weather conditions, overexertion in snow conditions, a medical emergency or a combination of the above factors,” according to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office.

An elderly couple, Henry Constable, 83, and Brooke Constable, 69, were found Sunday covered in snow on an unplowed driveway, and Timothy Lillebo, 61, collapsed in the snow after shoveling Saturday, Deschutes County Lt. Paul Garrison said.

And on Friday, a female passenger was killed in a single-vehicle crash on an icy interstate in northwest Oregon, State Police said, and another person died in a pileup on Interstate 5 in Washington.

Most Oregon roads were “passable” Sunday, said Dave Thompson, an Oregon Highway Patrol spokesman.

“Things are melting at this current moment,” Thomson said, adding that Oregon drivers generally don’t fear the snow as much as they fear the ice.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation warned that roads in the city were still covered with the dreaded ice, regardless of the warming temperatures. Dylan Rivera, a Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman said more than a quarter inch of ice had formed on top of the snow, and he urged residents to stay home.

Portland, Ore., has already seen 5.5 inches of snow accumulation this month, making it the snowiest February for the city in 21 years — a little over one week into the month, according to

And many portions of southwest Washington State were measuring snow accumulation in feet, especially at high elevations.

The two northwestern states continued to accumulate snowfall through Sunday, but the rising temperature was turning the snowflakes into raindrops, which will persist through Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.