Cars, vineyards trashed as storm hits Cali

California has been battered by rain, snow and high winds.
California has been battered by rain, snow and high winds.

Rain, snow and high winds have slammed California, submerging cars and flooding vineyards as the wettest storm of the winter hit the US West Coast and sparked weather warnings from Arizona to Washington state.

Among the hardest hit areas was northern California, with rain driven by winds of up to 120kph, pounding parts of Sonoma County's wine country.

In the Sacramento Valley, flood warnings were in effect as the warm "Pineapple Express" tropical system brought rain to the mountains, melting snow.

A woman was injured when a tree fell on a home in Carmel, and falling trees knocked out power to houses in Atherton, near Palo Alto.

"The (Pineapple) Express is no joke," Bob Oravec, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center in Maryland, said.

The system gets its name from a flow of moisture, known as an atmospheric river, that heads east from waters near Hawaii to soak the US West Coast.

The storm will deliver another round of rain and snow through Thursday and Friday, taking new snowfall over 2.4m in some Sierra Nevada passes.

It is one of a string of West Coast storms that have swelled snowpack in California to above-average levels, delighting farmers after years of drought.

But areas around Los Angeles could see over 13cm of rain trigger flash flooding and mudslides, especially near recent wildfire burn areas.

Australian Associated Press