Atmospheric Rivers Deal Californians Death, Flooding, Power Outages, Closed Schools
Californians grappled with flooding and mudslides Monday as the latest in a series of powerful storms walloped the state, shuttering schools, toppling trees, and leaving tens of thousands without power.
Evacuation orders were issued in Santa Cruz County for residents living near rapidly rising rivers and creeks. The San Lorenzo River was declared at flood stage, and video on social media showed a neighborhood flooded with muddy water almost reaching o a stop sign. Officials warned mudslides and flooding were blocking roads and urged residents to stay home.
Elsewhere in Northern California, several school districts were closed due to the storms. More than 36,000 customers remained without power in Sacramento, down from more than 350,000 a day earlier after gusts of 60 mph knocked trees into power lines, according to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
‘Relentless Parade of Atmospheric Rivers’
The National Weather Service warned of a “relentless parade of atmospheric rivers” — storms that are long plumes of moisture stretching out into the Pacific and are capable of dropping staggering amounts of rain and snow. The rain and snow expected over the next couple of days come after California has already been walloped by storms that last week knocked out power to thousands, flooded streets, and battered the coastline with high surf.
President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration Monday for California to support storm response and relief efforts in more than a dozen counties including Sacramento, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles.
Highway 101 has turned into a moving river this afternoon. Do not drive into these flood waters, putting yourself and everyone around you at risk. #TurnAroundDontDrown #CAwx #CAflood pic.twitter.com/Vtn5EkcskG
— NWS Bay Area 🌉 (@NWSBayArea) January 9, 2023
Storms Claim 12 Deaths in California
Gov. Gavin Newsom said 12 people died as a result of violent weather during the past 10 days, and he warned that this week’s storms could be even more dangerous. He urged people to stay home
The first of the newest, heavier storms prompted the weather service to issue a flood watch for a large swath of Northern and Central California, with 6 to 12 inches of rain expected through Wednesday in the already saturated Sacramento-area foothills.
In the Los Angeles area, stormy conditions were expected to return Monday, with the potential for up to 8 inches in foothill areas. High surf was expected through Tuesday, with large waves on west-facing beaches.
Since Dec. 26, San Francisco received more than 10 inches of rain, while Mammoth Mountain, a popular ski area in the Eastern Sierra, got nearly 10 feet of snow, the National Weather Service reported.
The storms won’t be enough to end California’s ongoing drought officially — but they have helped.
State Climatologist Michael Anderson said at a news briefing late Saturday that officials were closely monitoring Monday’s incoming storm and another behind it. They also are keeping an eye on three other systems farther out in the Pacific.