At least two people have died because of the storms that are still hitting California, and officials say that nearly 10,000 people have been told to leave their homes as severe flooding threatens several coastal counties. The strong storms have brought a lot of rain to the central and northern parts of the state, which caused the Weather Prediction Center to issue a Level 4 of 4 warning about the area getting too much rain.
The state of emergency declaration that Gov. Gavin Newsom asked for Thursday night has been approved by President Joe Biden. This means that money can be used to help deal with the storm and clean up after it, said Nancy Ward, who runs the state’s Office of Emergency Services.
The National Weather Service has sent flood alerts to about 25 million people, and PowerOutage.us says that more than 25,000 people are without power. The National Weather Service says that some places in the state have gotten more than a foot of rain. The heaviest rain will move south and get less intense this evening and through the night. But it is going to rain all weekend, which could cause more flooding worries.
Residents of many mountain towns in California are still stuck in snow from back-to-back winter storms. Early next week, another big atmospheric river event is expected to hit the area.
The National Water Center said, “Multiple rounds of rainfall in addition to melting snow will result in the potential for significant rises along streams and rivers, with widespread flooding impacts possible through early next week.”
In the next six to eight hours, flash flooding is most likely to happen along the central coast of California and in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, said David Lawrence of the National Weather Service. Ward also said that more than a dozen shelters have been set up in nine counties to house people who had to leave their homes.
CalTrans, the state’s transportation department, has about 4,000 crew members working 12-hour shifts during this weather event. They are already clearing drainage culverts and removing downed trees to prevent flooding, said John McKeever, the department’s deputy director. David Kauffman from the Cal Guard said that the California National Guard has also sent out 36 high-water vehicles to help with rescues.
Sheriff John Zanoni of Fresno County said that three elderly women, one of whom was 104 years old, were found stuck in a house and saved. By Friday afternoon, the sheriff’s office said that the floodwaters in the county had “risen significantly,” and all residents were told to leave.
The worst rainfall and most significant impacts expected to persist through the day Friday. Rainfall rates per hour will steadily get worse across California until Friday morning, when they could reach 1 inch per hour.
Parts of the Sierra Nevada above 8,000 feet could get hit with 8 feet of snow. The Weather Prediction Center said that creeks and streams in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains are still the most likely places to flood when it rains or snow melts.
A separate system is also delivering snow to a large swath of the central US with winter weather alerts in place Friday from South Dakota to Connecticut. Already, the storm has dropped between 2 and 5 inches of snow in many places, with between 6 and 8 inches in an area near the border between Illinois and Wisconsin.
Minneapolis could get up to 2 inches of snow on top of the 2.1 inches that are already there. And about 4 inches of snow have already fallen in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and another 5 inches could fall today. PowerOutage.us says that last night, heavy snow in Wisconsin cut power to about 110,000. About 89,000 people in Milwaukee County were affected.
People Are Stuck In California, And Videos Show Raging Floodwaters
As of Friday, the governor’s office has declared a state of emergency in 34 of California’s 58 counties because of storms and the threat of more severe weather this week. The state also activated its flood operations center Thursday morning.
A person who lives in Springville, Tulare County, took a video of flooding below a bridge and hitting a house on Friday from his car. “Not looking good in Springville,” Brian Duke captioned the video he posted on Facebook. “Authorities are evacuating everyone along the river. It’s getting worse by the minute.”
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said Friday evening it was receiving reports of widespread flooding, collapsed bridges, downed trees and separated roads, urging residents to take the storm seriously and heed officials’ orders.
About 700 residents in Soquel, California, located in Santa Cruz County, are trapped after a pipe failure led to intense flooding and collapse of the one road connecting the community to the rest of the region, Steve Wiesner, Santa Cruz County assistant public works director, told CNN.
Molly Watson, who lives in Soquel, sent CNN a picture of a big piece of road that washed away by floodwaters in the town. As emergency workers stand on one side of the road and people stand on the other, the cracked pavement seems to sink into the moving water.
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“This is the one road that leads into town”
“We are now an island.”
The residents will remain isolated until a new crossing can be prepared, which could take days, Wiesner said. A fire official said that the partial collapse of a warehouse roof in Oakland on Friday morning was likely caused by the weather. One person died and another was hurt.
In the community of Felton also in Santa Cruz County, resident Tom Fredericks lamented the fatigue from the unrelenting series of severe storms since the start of the year. Since then, Fredericks told CNN affiliate KGO, “We’ve been working every week, every week when we can.” “Right now, it’s starting to feel like it did before the storms. So this is kind of discouraging to be facing it all over again.”
From the end of December to the beginning of January, many parts of the state were flooded by days of heavy rain caused by atmospheric rivers. The rainfall caused deadly flooding, mudslides and damaged critical infrastructure that has not been yet repaired in some places, which elevates the potential danger associated with this week’s storm.
Meteorologists say that this week’s atmospheric rivers, which are long, narrow bands of moisture in the air that bring warm air and water vapor from the tropics, could be even more dangerous because they are so warm.
By Sunday morning, most cities could get between 1.5 and 3 inches of rain, while the coast ranges and inland hills could get between 3 and 6 inches. Up to 8 inches over the Santa Cruz Mountains and, in some places, up to 12 inches over the Santa Lucia Mountains’ most popular peaks and higher terrain.
Some ski resorts had to close because of the bad weather forecast. Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Northstar California Resort, and Heavenly Resort in South Lake Tahoe, which is on the border of Nevada and central California, all said they would not open on Friday.