California faces more drenching rain as a historic drought has given way to flooding that’s killed at least 14 people, closed highways and sent residents fleeing for their lives.
Wind gusts exceeding 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour are expected into Tuesday morning across mountains and foothills, the National Weather Service’s Los Angeles office said. Heavy rain and potential thunderstorms will likely rip down trees and power lines.
“We’re not quite done yet,” said Marc Chenard, a senior branch forecaster with the US Weather Prediction Center. “There’s going to be another burst where it’s going to pick up again in intensity. Then it starts clearing out by early to mid-afternoon.”
The parade of storms since the end of December is one of the biggest tests yet for disaster-weary California, which has endured a crucible of wildfires and extreme heat in recent years as global warming makes weather ever-more extreme.
Roads across the state have been overwhelmed with water, and five rivers are being monitored for flooding, including the Cosumnes River in Sacramento County and the Russian River in Napa and Mendocino counties in Northern California
Heavy rain has been falling since Sunday night, and about 200,000 homes and businesses in the state were without power as of Tuesday morning, according to PowerOutage.us. That’s down from more than 500,000 on Sunday after an earlier storm.
Residents in the tony coastal enclave of Montecito, home to Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Prince Harry, were told by state officials Monday to “LEAVE NOW” while shelter-in-place orders were issued in other parts of Santa Barbara County. Several other towns throughout the state advised residents to get out before more rivers flood.
The storm is another in a series of atmospheric river events, long streams of moisture that can stretch for thousands of miles across the Pacific, then deliver as much water as flows through the mouth of the Mississippi River when they’re wrung out on California’s mountains. The storms already have caused more than $1 billion in losses and damages, according to an estimate by AccuWeather Inc.
Another storm forecast to hit Thursday will probably drag across Northern California, as well as Oregon and Washington, Chenard said. The US West region will likely see above-average rain for the next two weeks.
Rainfall records were set for the date in a number of cities, including San Francisco Airport, Oakland and Santa Rosa. Chenard said a widespread area along the coast west of Los Angeles got 5 inches with some places getting more than 10.
“There were some pretty impressive totals,” Chenard said.
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