California lashed by fresh rain, snow and wind

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FELTON, Calif., Jan 14 (Reuters) – A new weather system of rain, snow and high winds hit California on Saturday, the latest in a parade of atmospheric rivers that have wreaked havoc across the state in recent weeks.

While next week should bring some respite, the first of two systems expected to hit California over the US holiday weekend pushed ashore on Saturday, triggering more heavy rain, the National Weather Service said.

Rarely seen atmospheric rivers in such frequent succession have hit the Golden State since Dec. 26, killing at least 19 people and causing flooding, power outages, mudslides, evacuations and road closures.

More than 24,000 utility customers were without power Saturday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us.

The storms reduced average annual precipitation by half in the agricultural Central Valley and up to 15 feet of snow in the mountains.

Flood warnings were in effect across the state on Saturday, and thousands of residents were under evacuation orders and warnings.

A neighborhood in the community of Felton, in Santa Cruz County, central California, flooded for the second time in a week and the third time since the turn of the year.

Residents banded together, helping each other with shovels and squeegees to clean driveways and sidewalks.

“It sucks,” said Caitlin Clancy, 36, as she cleaned up mud in her driveway. “And to go through this a third time, it’s just a defeat.”

Sacramento County issued an evacuation order for Wilton and other areas that experienced heavy flooding during a storm on New Year’s Eve.

A levee failure in the Bear Creek area of ​​Merced, in the San Joaquin Valley, flooded homes and left animals stranded, according to local media, as authorities worked to prevent the floodwaters from overflowing.

At least seven canals were officially flooded, the California Department of Water Resources said on Friday.

California Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters Saturday that he hoped President Joe Biden would sign a major disaster declaration to help the state respond to the emergency.

“These weather events have claimed more lives in the past two years than wildfires,” Newsom said at a news conference on Saturday. “That’s how mortal they are.”

In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, heavy snow and strong winds brought bleaching conditions in some areas that led to road closures.

Snowfall in the Sierras reached 21 inches on Saturday morning, with about 10 feet already on the ground and a few more expected, according to the Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab at the University of California.

California storms eased but did not resolve the region’s drought.

The US Drought Monitor on Thursday revised its assessment to take virtually all of the state out of extreme drought or exceptional drought, the two worst categories, although much is still considered to be suffering from moderate or severe drought.

Reporting by Nathan Frandino in Felton, California, Maria Caspani in New York and Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Deepa Babington and Edwina Gibbs

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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