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Flood warning in Mariposa closes down schools, road

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File photo akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning Wednesday afternoon for several areas in central Mariposa County, including Yosemite National Park, forcing the closure of two schools in the area.

The storm is also raining down on northwest Kings County and southwest Fresno County, according to the National Weather Service Hanford, placing both under a flood advisory until 7:45 p.m. Kettleman City was issued a flood warning.

The warning was sent at 1:21 p.m. when the Doppler radar detected thunderstorms dropping heavy rain across areas burned by the Ferguson Fire. Flash flooding was expected to begin shortly after.

According to the National Weather Service, the warning will last through 5:45 p.m.

“The debris flow can consist of rock, mud, vegetation and other loose materials,” The Weather Service reported.

Mariposa County closed the Yosemite Valley Elementary School and El Portal Elementary School campuses shortly after the Sheriff’s Office notified them of the flood warning, said Ceci Archer, executive assistant to the superintendent. Students of Mariposa County High School who live along the Highway 140 corridor were dismissed early.

El Portal is the area expected to be affected by the flood, according to the National Weather Service. It was originally reported that as many as five more areas would be flooded.

The California Department of Transportation announced the closure of Highway 140 from the Bear Creek Bridge to Cedar Lodge in response to the flood warning. The road is expected to remain closed until 10 p.m.

Warren Alford, spokesperson for Caltrans, said they’ve had reports of debris falling onto Highway 140.

At around 2:40 p.m., the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office reported three feet of mud and downed trees along the closed highway.

“This is an extremely dangerous, life-threatening situation. Avoid this area, find an alternate route,” read the National Weather Service alert.

Alford recommends motorists be aware of their surroundings and warned that roads will be slick since this is the first major storm of the season.

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday that parts of Mariposa County would be on flash-flood watch from noon Wednesday to 12 a.m. Thursday.

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