With Another Storm Coming, Here Are Five Places In California To Watch

Storms have hit California for more than two weeks, and another one is coming over the holiday weekend. Since late December, the constant rain has killed at least 19 people and messed up the lives of millions more. Homes have been flooded; cars have been smashed, power lines have been knocked down, and more.

Experts say that almost none of the storms would have been considered catastrophic on their own, but the constant beating has changed the landscape of California. Mudslides are more likely to happen on soil that can’t hold as much water as it used to. After days of strong winds, trees have fallen over. And the constant rain has turned creeks that used to trickle into raging rivers. Here are a few things that officials are paying close attention to.

Storms have hit California for more than two weeks, and another one is coming over the holiday weekend. Since late December, the constant rain has killed at least 19 people and messed up the lives of millions more. Homes have been flooded; cars have been smashed, power lines have been knocked down, and more.

Experts say that almost none of the storms would have been considered catastrophic on their own, but the constant beating has changed the landscape of California. Mudslides are more likely to happen on soil that can’t hold as much water as it used to. After days of strong winds, trees have fallen over. And the constant rain has turned creeks that used to trickle into raging rivers. Here are a few things that officials are paying close attention to.

Peninsula of Monterey

The peninsula is the most famous part of Monterey County’s coast. It is about 100 miles south of San Francisco and is home to 50,000 people. Carmel, Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Pebble Beach, a famous golfing spot, are all on the peninsula. The peninsula has been closely watched as storms continue to hit the Central Coast. Through Sunday night, there will be thunderstorms and between 0.5 and 1 inch of rain in the area. The rain will continue on Monday.

Aid workers have seen a lot of flooding in the Salinas Valley, which is inland from the peninsula. Some areas along the Salinas and Carmel rivers are still under evacuation orders from the county. Maia Carroll, the communications coordinator for Monterey County, said that on Saturday, more than 100 people were in shelters for people who had to leave their homes. Some people have been living in hotels since the flooding started last Monday.

On Sunday, no one was told to leave the Monterey Peninsula, but officials all over the county stayed on the lookout for more flooding along the major rivers. The worries brought back memories of 1995 when the peninsula was cut off from the rest of the county because the roads into it were flooded. Highways 1 and 68 are the main ways to get into the area. If the Salinas River overflows, these roads could get flooded.

Santa Cruz Mountains

Concerns in hard-hit Santa Cruz County, a coastal area south of San Jose, include flooding in the lowlands, a rising tide at the coast, and falling trees. However, Dave Reid, director of the Santa Cruz County Office of Response, Recovery, and Resilience, said more rain would be awful for the mountains.

“The problem we have right now in mountain areas is that even small amounts of rain could cause roads to collapse and landslides,” he said. Since it has been raining for weeks, the ground can’t soak up much more. This makes it more likely that mudslides and roads will be damaged.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, it was supposed to rain for the rest of Sunday and Monday morning, and there was a chance it would rain again on Monday afternoon. Daniel DeLong is primarily worried about falling trees and mudslides.

DeLong, a 56-year-old retired firefighter who lives in Ben Lomond, California, a small town in the Santa Cruz Mountains, says that the recent storms were “much worse” than anything he has seen in his 30 years living there. His family lives on a hundred acres of land with tall Redwood and Douglas fir trees.

DeLong said, “They could just come down and break your house in half.” In the past two weeks, a few smaller trees have fallen on his property, but they didn’t do much damage. His property is less at risk of falling rocks and mud, but mudslides have closed roads in the area. DeLong said that if more roads break down, his family could get stuck on their property.

With Another Storm Coming, Here Are Five Places In California To Watch
With Another Storm Coming, Here Are Five Places In California To Watch

Lake Tahoe Region / Sierra Nevada

In the Sierra Nevada, more than 8 feet of snow have fallen in the last week. Mountain towns in the Lake Tahoe area are ready for big winter storms because they have a lot of snow removal equipment and avalanche experts. Problems get worse when that much snow falls on a holiday weekend and thousands of people come to Tahoe for a winter vacation. Tahoe is one of the most popular places in the country for downhill skiing.

On Sunday morning, cars were jammed up on two-lane roads leading to ski resorts north of Lake Tahoe. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning on Sunday, saying that another 8 to 18 inches of snow would fall by Tuesday and winds would gust up to 80 mph on Sierra’s exposed ridge tops.

Officials from the California Department of Transportation asked drivers to be patient, especially on Monday, when more snow was expected to make the roads dangerous as tourists headed home over high mountain passes. Gilbert Mohtes-Chan, a public information officer for Caltrans District 3, said that people could expect long lines and slow traffic.

On Saturday, heavy snowfall caused delays and brief shutdowns on Interstate 80 and Highway 50. Mohtes-Chan said the roads were “wild” with many accidents and spinouts. People stuck in traffic got out of their cars to play in the snow. They didn’t realize they were on a major road where big snowplows and other heavy equipment needed to go. Mohtes-Chan said, “People need to slow down and be patient, and they’ll get where they want to go.”

On the bright side, the amount of water in the snowpack right now is almost as much as it was during some of the most extensive winters in the last few decades. The Sierra is a significant reservoir for all of California. On average, about 30% of the state’s water comes from the Sierra snowpack, and when the weather gets dry, the snowmelt keeps a steady flow of water going downstream.

County of Los Angeles

On Saturday, it rained 1.8 inches in downtown Los Angeles. This was more rain than ever before on that date. The storm didn’t do much damage to the city or the area around it. A tree crushed a few cars, and a boulder and other debris from a mudslide stopped traffic. When the tides rose near the ocean, they left up to 6 inches of water in the streets, including Long Beach. And the sinkhole that swallowed two cars last week in the Chatsworth neighborhood of north Los Angeles kept getting bigger, taking up almost the whole width of the road.

Mark Pestrella, who is in charge of public works for Los Angeles County, said the situation was like “10,000 small cuts across the county.” But all of them add up. He said fixing the roads, which have holes and broken pavement, will cost close to $200 million—still, Capt. Sheila Kelliher-Berkoh of the Los Angeles County Fire Department says that Los Angeles has done much better than other parts of the state. She said, “We have our share of problems, but it could be worse.”

Kelliher-Berkoh said that the Los Angeles River was one of the most important things for the department. She said that the river, usually just a dry strip of concrete running south through the middle of the city, turned into a 10-foot-deep torrent during the storms. People who don’t realize how strong the current is, like children or homeless people camping near the banks, can get hurt by this flow.

The County Fire Department is also keeping a close eye on areas where wildfires have happened recently. This is because burn scars have left behind loose soil perfect for mudslides.

County of Merced

The county, about 130 miles east of San Jose in the San Joaquin Valley and is home to nearly 300,000 people, has seen some of the worst weather in California. For example, flooding last week forced hundreds of people to leave their homes. Planada, a small farming town about 90 minutes away from Yosemite National Park, was one of the places that got hit the hardest.

Despite the drought, it has rained more than 200 times as much in the county this month as it did in January last year. Sunday, the storms in that area calmed down, but people there are getting ready for more heavy rain and possible flooding. The rain is expected to keep coming until Monday.

During a brief break in the rain this weekend, the California National Guard worked with the county’s Office of Emergency Services to fix and strengthen the area’s major waterways, including Bear Creek, which flooded last week.

Emergency workers also rushed to clear storm drains and fix levees across the valley and pump out floodwater before things got worse again. This weekend, the roads in Merced County started to reopen, and the evacuation orders were lifted. This made it possible for the Red Cross, local volunteers, and the Merced County Sheriff’s Office to give food and water to their tired neighbors.

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