‘Critical emergency’: California’s deadliest, record-breaking storms are about to get an encore



CNN

Historic storms that have devastated much of California have turned entire neighborhoods into lakes, unleashed floodwaters and killed at least 18 people.

More to come. About 5 million people were under a flood watch Wednesday as another raging river brought heavy rain to California.

California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis said Wednesday that “the state has been dealing with a drought for the last four years and now it’s storm after storm.”

“We’ve had six storms in the last two weeks. That’s all the weather you’ll get in a year, and we’ve condensed it into two weeks.

It’s already “one of the worst disasters in our state’s history,” Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the California governor’s office of emergency services, said Wednesday before the 18th death was reported.

“We probably had more air rescues yesterday than any other day in the history of the state,” Ferguson said, adding that the Golden State is not out of the woods yet.

“With a bit of a break today, we continue to see additional storms poised to come ashore over the next couple of days,” he said. “We continue to be concerned about our streams, our culverts and some areas that are muddy, particularly along our central coastline.”

Wednesday’s flood watches are primarily in place for Northern and Central California, including Sacramento, North Bay and Redding. That doesn’t leave enough time for residents of flooded neighborhoods to assess the devastation before the next storm.

“It’s just brown water everywhere. It’s rushing — it was rushing,” Fenton Grove resident Caitlin Clancy said.

“We had tied a canoe and thought we could row out if we needed to. But it was moving too fast.

The onslaught of recent storms comes from a march of atmospheric rivers — long, narrow stretches in the atmosphere that can transport moisture thousands of miles.

“Five atmospheric rivers have arrived in California in two weeks,” Kounalakis said.

“Everything is wet. Everything is complete. Everything is at a breaking point, and the rain is coming.

In fact, four more atmospheric rivers are expected to hit California in the next 10 days.

Residents scramble to collect belongings Wednesday before floodwaters rise in Merced, California.

What’s in store for another round of severe weather barrels on the West Coast:

• The heaviest rain is expected over the next seven days in northern parts of California, where the National Weather Service predicts an additional 5 to 10 inches. On Wednesday, radar estimates of 1-2 inches of rain fell across Northern California, with some higher elevations getting about 3 inches.

• Rain moved north Wednesday afternoon, giving Central California a brief reprieve. There is a slight risk of heavy rain – Level 2 out of 4 – on the Northwest Coast Thursday and a slight risk – Level 1 out of 4 – along the Pacific Northwest Coast.

• Precipitation pushed inland into the Sierra Nevada Wednesday afternoon, dumping more snow. It was still snowing Wednesday evening.

Another round of atmospheric moisture is expected to come ashore on Friday, but less severe than the previous one. A slight risk of heavy rainfall has been issued for the northwestern coastal areas of the state, with a slight risk in the south, including the hard-hit Bay Area and San Luis Obispo.

Rescue crews are on the ground in San Luis Obispo County 5-year-old Kyle scrambles to find ToneSalinas was dragged from a truck near the river Monday morning.

Kyle Doan, 5, was last seen Monday in San Miguel, San Luis Obispo County.

Members of the National Guard arrived Wednesday to help with the search, and more will arrive Thursday, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said. Tweet Wednesday.

The sheriff’s office earlier urged the public to leave the search to professionals to avoid the risk of volunteers having to fend for themselves.

As another storm builds, many residents are still grappling with the devastation to their communities.

Rachel Oliveira used a shovel to clear the floodwaters and thick mud that surrounded her Felton Grove home.

“It’s backbreaking work,” Oliveira said passionately.

But she was more concerned that her neighbors’ houses were also covered in thick mud.

“Many of us who live in the neighborhood here are elderly and can’t really physically clean.”

In the Los Angeles neighborhood of Chatsworth, several people were rescued after two vehicles were engulfed in flames Tuesday. In Malibu, a large boulder fell, closing a major road.

In some areas of Santa Barbara County, “the storm caused a flow through the sewer system, resulting in sewage being released from the system into the street,” County Supervising Environmental Health Specialist Jason Johnston said Monday evening.

The health department has warned that there is a risk of disease spreading from this water.

Another sinkhole was reported Monday in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County, where 20 homes were evacuated. CNN affiliate KEYT reported.

“The storms hit us like a bursting water balloon and sent water down our rivers and creeks. And so there’s been this much flooding — it’s been cyclical over and over again,” Santa Cruz County spokesman Jason Hoppin told CNN.

Hoppin said 131 homes in the county sustained significant damage but could be repaired, while five others were not.

Falling trees are causing loss of life, property damage and road disruption. Sacramento officials estimated about 1,000 trees were down on New Year’s Day, Sacramento Department of Public Works spokeswoman Gabby Miller told CNN Wednesday, with crews and crews working around the clock to clean up.

In San Francisco, the Department of Public Works has reported about 1,300 tree-related incidents, in which trees are down but bare limbs and branches, says Rachel Gordon, director of policy and communications for the San Francisco Department of Public Works.

According to California State Parks spokeswoman Adeline Yee, the parks, which are home to some of the state’s iconic redwoods, were spared.

“In Redwood National and State Parks and Big Basin Redwood State Park, we saw some downed trees blocking roads and trails,” Yee said. “At this point, most of the downed trees are not old redwoods.”

In the state park system, 54 park units were closed as of Wednesday morning, and 38 were partially closed.

The recent Atmospheric River storm system has also disabled dozens of state travel routes, and at least 40 are closed, according to Caltrans spokesman Will Arnold.

“Caltrans has activated 12 of our emergency operations centers across the state and has more than 4,000 employees conducting 24/7 maintenance patrols for roadway hazards such as trees, flooded roadways, mudslides/rockslides,” Arnold said.

Recent storms have brought down trees on houses, cars, rocks and mud down hillsides, causing death after floodwaters rose rapidly.

18 people have died in California in the last two weeks alone. The latest victim was a 43-year-old woman whose body was recovered Wednesday from inside a vehicle washed up in a flooded Sonoma County vineyard, officials said. Divers found the vehicle submerged in 8 to 10 feet of water.

“That’s more than we’ve lost in the last two years of wildfires,” said the lieutenant governor. “So this is a very significant emergency.”

Rebekah Rohde, 40, and Steven Sorensen, 61, were both found over the weekend “with trees on top of their tents,” the Sacramento County Coroner said. Both were homeless, according to the release.

A tree fell on a pickup truck Tuesday on State Route 99 in Visalia, San Joaquin Valley, killing the driver. A motorcyclist has died after crashing into a tree, the California Highway Patrol said.

Another driver died Monday after entering a flooded road in Avila Beach, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said.

“It only takes six inches of water for a car to lose control. At 12 inches, cars start floating,” Kounalakis said this week.

“You will have heard of creeks rising 14 feet in the last day alone and in some areas over a foot of rain in the last 48 hours. So it’s incredible. ”

Rescue crews help stranded people Tuesday in Merced, California.

Many areas across the state have recorded 50% to 70% of their average annual rainfall since the march of atmospheric river events began to hit the state on December 26. National Weather Service. Oakland received 69% of its annual average, Santa Barbara 64%, Stockton 60% and the city of San Francisco 59%.

Downtown San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Barbara each received more than a foot of rain, the NWS said.

While none of the upcoming storms are individually expected to be as impactful as the most recent one, the cumulative effect will be significant with much of the soil already too saturated to absorb rain.

The state’s ongoing drought has left the landscape so parched that the soil struggles to absorb incoming rainfall — leading to dangerous flash floods.

Scientists have warned The climate crisis is having a significant effect California’s weather oscillates between severe drought and extreme rainfall.

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