California storms protracted with flooding, risk of landslides


California received little relief from downpours Tuesday as the latest storm in a string of relentless storms flooded roads, turned rivers into floodplains and forced thousands of people to flee towns. history of deadly landslides. At least 14 people have died since last week.

The storm led to several tornado warnings early Tuesday and brought heavy snow to the Sierra Nevada a day after bringing up to 14 inches (36 cm) of rain at higher elevations in the central and eastern regions. southern California.

The Miles of Sierra highway was subject to chain requirements and closed due to power outages, and an avalanche warning was posted in the outback. The Mammoth Mountain ski resort in the Eastern Sierra reported 4.5 to 5.5 feet (1.4-1.7 meters) of snow, more expected.

After a brief respite, another storm is expected to hit parts of the state starting Wednesday, adding to the misery and further saturating already-saturated areas. at risk of flooding.

The storms threatened coastal and riverside towns, leaving more than 200,000 homes and businesses without power early Tuesday, according to the website, which tracks utility reports.

The weather service has issued flood warnings through Tuesday for the entire San Francisco Bay Area, along with the Sacramento Valley and Monterey Bay. Areas that have been hit by wildfires in recent years have faced the possibility of mud and debris sliding off bare hillsides that have yet to fully recover their protective vegetation.

Weather forecasters say the storm – the latest extreme weather event starting in 2023 – is expected to bring enough rain to exacerbate ongoing flooding and increase the risk mudslide.

Forecasters also warned that southwestern California could see gusts of 60 mph (97 km/h) at the storm’s peak, while some areas could receive up to rainfall. half an inch (13 mm) per hour.

State officials said the death toll from storms that began last week rose from 12 to 14 on Monday, after two people were killed by fallen trees.

California state highway authorities said late Monday that portions of U.S. and state highways were closed because of flooding, mud or rock avalanches, heavy snow or vehicle turns and crashes. vans. The closure includes the northbound lanes of US 101, an important coastal route.

Evacuation orders were issued in Santa Cruz County for approximately 32,000 residents living near rivers and creeks flooded by rainwater. The San Lorenzo River has risen to the point of flooding, and drone footage shows houses submerged in murky brown water, the top half of cars peeking out.

A 5-year-old boy disappeared in floodwater on Monday on the central coast. The boy’s mother was driving a truck when it got stuck near Paso Robles. Tom Swanson, assistant superintendent of the Cal Fire/San Luis Obispo County Fire Department, said bystanders tried to pull the girl out, but the boy was swept out of the truck and swept away, possibly being fell into the river.

Officials said the search for the missing boy, which lasted about seven hours, only found his shoe before officials halted it because the water level became too dangerous for divers. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla said the boy has not been declared dead.

About 130 miles (209 km) south, about 10,000 people were ordered to evacuate in Santa Barbara County.

The entire coastal community of Montecito – home to Prince Harry, Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities – was ordered to evacuate on the fifth anniversary of a landslide that killed 23 people and destroyed more than 100 homes. coastal area.

County officials ordered the evacuation of 20 homes in the Orcutt area after flooding and a sinkhole damaged 15 homes.

Jamie McLeod’s property is on an evacuation order in Montecito, but she says there’s no way for her to “get down the mountain” with a fast-flowing stream on one side and a landslide on the other. The 60-year-old owner of the Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary said one of her employees came to deliver food weekly and was also stuck.

McLeod said she feels lucky that her house is high up and still has electricity. But she is tired of the frequent evacuation orders since a massive wildfire that triggered a deadly landslide five years ago.

“It’s not easy to relocate,” says McLeod. “I absolutely love it, except during disaster.”

Ellen DeGeneres shared a video on Instagram of herself standing in front of a fast-flowing creek near the home in Montecito where she lives with her wife, actor Portia de Rossi. She said in the post that they were asked to shelter in place because they were on high ground.

A few miles off the coast, another town, La Conchita in Ventura County, was ordered to evacuate. A landslide killed 10 people there in 2005.

In Ventura County, the Ventura River reached its highest recorded level of more than 25 feet (8 meters) on Monday. Firefighters used helicopters to rescue more than a dozen people stranded on an island in rising waters. The water level quickly dropped to a minor flood level during the night.

The storm also swept away 3 feet (1 meter) of mud and rocks on Highway 126, stranding long lines of cars and large trucks. The crew worked all night to pull them out.

In Los Angeles, a sinkhole swallowed two cars Monday night in the Chatsworth area. Authorities said two people were able to get out on their own and firefighters were able to rescue two others with minor injuries.

The National Weather Service has warned of a “relentless march of atmospheric rivers” – plumes of moisture extending into the Pacific Ocean that can cause incredible amounts of rain and snow. The expected rainfall over the next few days comes after last week’s storms knocked out power, flooded streets and battered the coast.

US President Joe Biden issued an emergency declaration on Monday to support hurricane response and relief efforts in more than a dozen counties.

Much of California is still in a state of extreme drought, although hurricanes have helped fill depleted reservoirs.


Associated Press journalists Janie Har and Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco; Amy Taxi in Orange County; Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles; Nic Coury in Aptos; Martha Mendoza of Santa Cruz and Haven Daley of Felton contributed to this report

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