Another atmospheric river reached storm-ravaged California, raising new fears of flooding, possible mudslides and treacherous travel into the state on Monday, where a relentless series of storms has already caused widespread damage and left at least 19 people dead in recent weeks.
“We’ve lost a lot – a lot of people to these storms and these waters,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement on Saturday, urging residents to prepare for another round of rain.
The latest storm is expected to bring heavy snow in the mountains and periods of heavy rain, with an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain expected in areas already too saturated to absorb more water.
Flood warnings remain in effect for about 8 million people along the California coast, including the Bay Area, as of Monday afternoon. A mild risk — level 2 of 4 — for excessive rain and flooding covers a large portion of Southern California, including the greater Los Angeles area, through Monday morning, then drops to a marginal risk throughout the day.
Meanwhile, winter storm warnings are posted for the Sierra Nevada, where up to 3 feet of new snow could fall by Monday.
Residents of remote Matilija Canyon in Ventura County were urged Sunday to evacuate their homes after more than 17 inches of high-intensity rain resulted in significant damage and left massive piles of rock and mud more than 40 feet high blocking some roads, isolating residents, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said, adding that more than ten helicopter flights transported more than 70 area residents.
As far north as San Joaquin County, about 175 residents were voluntarily evacuated from a trailer park on Sunday, including by boat, after floodwaters flooded the community, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
Evacuation notices were also in effect Sunday night for residents near the Carmel River in Monterey County on California’s central coast. A notice was also issued to residents of Sacramento County. Wilton area.
“People are tired of evacuation orders. People are tired of seeing those Caltrans conversion signs saying ‘bypass’ — they’re just generally tired,” Newsom said at a press conference on Saturday.
The parade of atmospheric rivers — long, narrow regions in the atmosphere that can transport moisture thousands of miles — has turned California communities into lakes, crippled highways and prompted thousands of evacuations.
The good news? A much-needed stretch of dry weather is on the way.
“As we move into the day on Tuesday, we are looking for calmer weather across much of the state, with an additional fast-moving system coming in from late Wednesday to early Thursday. After that we look for a period of dry weather for much of the state finally as we move into the end of the week and pretty much into the weekend,” one National Weather Service said the spokesperson.
Monday will see the last round of rain slowly make its way from Northern California in the early afternoon hours to Southern California later in the day.
But for now, the state is bracing for more floods, landslides and rescues. Swift water resources and firefighters have been deployed across the state in preparation for Monday, which could see the heaviest rains this round, state officials said.
Wind gusts reached hurricane strength on Sunday in the highlands of southern California, where about 14 million people were under high wind warnings as of Monday.
And as the latest storm approaches, President Joe Biden on Saturday approved California’s disaster declaration request, freeing up federal aid to supplement recovery efforts in areas of the state affected by storm surges, floods and mudslides since Dec. .
Federal assistance could include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, loans to help cover property losses for uninsured homes, according to the White House.
A few isolated higher rainfall rates of 0.5 inches per hour could lead to some instances of flooding, especially given the very wet conditions as atmospheric rivers have hit the state in the weeks prior.
While this weekend’s rainfall total is less than previous storms, the threshold for flooding is much lower now because the ground is so saturated and conditions are ripe for landslides and landslides.
There have been 402 landslides reported across the state since Dec. 30, according to the California Geological Survey.
Rain totals over the last few weeks have been immense. Already, San Francisco recorded one of its 15 wettest winters on record. The Bay Area could see 1-2 inches more by Monday afternoon and the wettest peaks could be as high as 3 inches.
To the south, the Los Angeles area has seen several locations set daily rainfall records with 1 to 2 inches received Saturday. Southern California can still see isolated areas where heavy rainfall can reach half an inch per hour in the heaviest storms.
Some areas of Santa Cruz County have recorded more than 34 inches of rain since Dec. 26, according to the county recovery official. If this is confirmed by the weather service, it would place Santa Cruz among the five wettest winters on record – with still a month left in the season.
“We are getting flooding in our coastal streams, creeks and rivers,” said Santa Cruz County Official David Reid. “And we are getting extensive landslides and landslides and road failures in our mountainous areas.”
“There’s definitely a fatigue that comes with ongoing storms – people are starting to fear that what we’re saying isn’t true, but we have real concerns,” Reid added.
The need for residents to follow evacuation orders and adhere to road closures is real. Teams across the state have been responding to rescues on flooded streets and flooded neighborhoods for weeks.
Storm-related deaths in recent weeks have included a woman whose body was found inside a vehicle that was driven into a flooded vineyard, two people who were found with trees on top of their tents, a child who was killed when a redwood tree fell into a house and several other fatalities.
And in San Luis Obispo County, rescuers are still searching for 5-year-old Kyle Doan, who was ripped from his mother’s hands by a flood on Monday after his SUV was swept away.
Rain on Saturday hampered the search as water levels rose in the San Marcos Creek and Salinas River, but teams returned to the search for the boy on Sunday as conditions improved, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said.
As lower elevations deal with heavy rainfall and possible flooding and landslides, those who live in higher elevations can expect heavy snowfall and hazardous road conditions.
Up to 3 feet of new snow could fall on Monday in Sierra Nevada, while mountains in Southern California could see several inches of snow on Tuesday morning.
Flagstaff, Arizona saw 14.8 inches on Sunday, breaking a previous record of 8.9 inches set in 1978.
“Heavy snow in the mountains and strong winds will lead to blowing snow and bleaching conditions at times, creating dangerous or nearly impossible travel above 4,000 feet in the mountains and passes of Central California and above 5,000 feet in Southern California,” he said. the communiqué. National Weather Service said.
Snow can hit the mountains at a rate of 2 inches per hour at times on Monday morning in the Sierra Nevada, the weather service added.
For Tuesday, rain and snow will move into the Four Corners region, but isolated showers and blizzards could still affect parts of Southern California on Tuesday morning.
Lower elevations in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico can see 1-4 inches of snow and higher elevations can see 1-2 feet.
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