United States

Weekend brings more rain, snow to storm-hit California

Reuters
Weekend brings more rain, snow to storm-hit California

LOADING UP. Local residents Tino Lazaro and his son Ayden Lazaro pick up sandbags in order to protect their homes from flooding, after winter storms brought high winds and heavy rain and before another storm forecasted the next day, in Merced, California, USA, on January 13, 2023.

Laure Andrillon/Reuters

Flood warnings and advisories are issued across the state on January 14, from Los Angeles county to the Bay Area

FELTON, USA – A new weather system packing rain, snow and strong winds moved into storm-lashed California on Saturday, January 14, 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 onshore on Saturday, threatening to unleash more heavy rain across the waterlogged state, the National Weather Service said.

A series of atmospheric rivers rarely seen in such frequent succession has pounded the Golden State since December 26, killing at least 19 people and bringing floods, power outages, mudslides, evacuations and road closures.

Nearly 23,000 utility customers were without power as of Saturday, according to PowerOutage.us.

The storms have dropped half the average annual rainfall on the agricultural Central Valley and as much as 15 feet (4.5 m) of snow in the mountains.

Flood warnings and advisories were issued across the state on Saturday, from Los Angeles county to the Bay Area.

A neighborhood in the Santa Cruz County community of Felton in central California flooded for the second time in a week on Saturday.

Floodwaters from the rising San Lorenzo River, which cuts through the town in the Santa Cruz Mountains, inundated Felton Grove, triggering emergency evacuations.

Trash cans were seen floating down streets, with water levels reaching stop signs and overtaking parked vehicles.

Some residents waded through floodwaters and mud to clean debris.

A levee breach in the Bear Creek area of Merced in the San Joaquin Valley flooded homes and stranded animals, according to local media, as officials worked to prevent high waters from overflowing.

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

Among the waterways of concern, the Salinas River in northern California flooded roads and farmland on Friday, when 24,000 people were urged to evacuate.

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

“My hope and expectation is that we will (get the disaster declaration) because that’s the intention of the president,” Newsom said at a news conference on Saturday.

In the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, heavy snow and strong winds brought whiteout conditions in some areas that prompted road closures as officials asked people to stay off the roads.

Snowfall in the Sierras had topped 21 inches as of Saturday morning, with about 10 feet already on the ground, according to the University of California at Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab.

“We’re expecting another 2-3 feet of snow by Monday morning, so much more to come!,” the research station said in a Twitter post.

The storms have mitigated but not solved the region’s drought.

The US Drought Monitor revised on Thursday its assessment to lift virtually all of the state out of extreme drought or exceptional drought, the two worst categories, though much of it is still considered to be suffering moderate or severe drought. – Rappler.com

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