California

Six years ago, Don Cameron, the general manager of Terranova Ranch, southwest of Fresno, Calif., did something that seemed kind of crazy.

He went out to a nearby river, which was running high because of recent rains, and he opened an irrigation gate. Water rushed down a canal and flooded hundreds of acres of vineyards — even though it was wintertime. The vineyards were quiet. Nothing was growing.

"We started in February, and we flooded grapes continuously, for the most part, until May," Cameron says.

A storm system that dumped precipitation on multiple states in the West appears to be easing, but rivers have yet to crest and many communities are still digging out from record snowfall.

Over the weekend and into Monday morning, a powerful storm in Nevada and Northern California resulted in mudslides and flooding, caused more than a thousand people to evacuate their homes, took out power lines and brought down a famous sequoia "tunnel tree."

That storm is over, but residents can't relax yet: Starting on Tuesday, a second potent winter storm is expected to hit the region.

A powerful winter storm in California has brought down an ancient tree, carved into a living tunnel more than a century ago.

The "Pioneer Cabin Tree," a sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, saw horses and cars pass through it over the years. More recently, only hikers were allowed to walk through the massive tree.

Over the weekend, a powerful winter storm slammed into California and Nevada, prompting flooding and mudslides in some regions. The Associated Press reports it might be the biggest storm to hit the region in more than a decade.

City and county officials in Los Angeles on Monday unveiled a $10 million fund to provide legal services to immigrants facing deportation. They say they want the fund to be set up before Donald Trump becomes president.

Cities across the country have been motivated to act after candidate Trump pledged to build a wall and deport 11 million people. An estimated 1 million immigrants without legal status live in Los Angeles County alone.

Los Angeles and other cities are bracing for a crackdown on illegal immigration once Trump takes office next month.

A California judge has been cleared of misconduct after sentencing a Stanford University student to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a woman earlier this year.

"The California Commission on Judicial Performance ruled Monday that there was no evidence that Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky displayed bias in handing down a sentence decried as too lenient by critics across the country," The Associated Press reported.

With Donald Trump set to become president next month and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress, California's Democrats believe their state should take the lead in opposing the new administration's priorities.

And they have no interest in calls for national unity.

"We must be defiant whenever justice, fairness, and righteousness require," State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon recently told lawmakers. "Californians do not need healing. We need to fight."

Uber has started offering rides in self-driving cars in San Francisco without a permit for autonomous vehicles — defying state regulators, who say the permit is mandatory.

Uber's self-driving Volvos, which are operated with a "safety driver" behind the wheel, have already been deployed in Pittsburgh. They hit the roads in San Francisco on Wednesday.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act first and replace it sometime later. That doesn't sit well with Victoria Barton, who lives in McCarthy's rural California district.

"It's like they dangled the carrot and now they're taking it away," said Barton, 38, of Bakersfield, an unpaid photographer and stay-at-home mother of two.

Voters in Oceanside, Calif., have chosen a dead man over a woman, re-electing Gary Ernst as city treasurer despite the fact that Ernst died in September. A prominent city councilman had urged voters to elect Ernst rather than challenger Nadine Scott, promising to appoint a replacement for Ernst.

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