It has stood proud for centuries. However, the famous Pioneer Cabin tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park has come down in the worst storms to hit California in decades. The tree is famous the world over because its centre was hollowed out 200 years ago so that people could walk through it. At one point cars were allowed to use the tunnel. Although it has recently been a focal point for hikers.

The tree was the highlight of the Big Trees Trail and a popular shady spot for walkers. It is thought that the tunnel would have led to the trees collapse, given that it had weakened it and prevented it from further growth.

Jim Allday, who is a volunteer at the park, said that the tree had simply shattered as it hit the ground. It is thought that the tree had begun to lean in recent years.

It was finally toppled during a huge storm on the West Coast which meant that many people had to evacuate their homes. More than 1,000 families left their houses in Nevada while drivers were rescued from cars stranded on flooded roads.

Broken their banks

Both the Truckee River in Nevada and the Russian River in Sonoma County broke their banks are are expected to say flooded for a number of days before the water finally receeds. Forecasters are also warning of a second storm due to arrive on already saturated land.

Schools also had to be shut in Sonoma, which was hardest hit, and many families were left without power. There were worries about avalanches in the norther Sierra Nevada, while mudslides re a risk along hillsides in Los Angeles.

Emergency crews have responded to scores of incidents in Northern California, clearing tress and debris brought down by heavy rain. The National Weather Service said the state was continuing to suffer “a serious flood situation”.