SACRAMENTO — A powerful storm lashed the California coastline on Wednesday, setting the stage for more flooding, landslides and damaging winds in the state just days after it was inundated by another “atmospheric river.”
Typically, the amount of rain expected this week won’t have a major impact. But forecasters said weekend rains saturated the ground like a wet sponge across much of California, making the state more prone to flooding and rapid runoff.
The state has been dealing with drought and wildfires for much of the past few years, leaving coastal officials to contend with recurring flooding.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency across California on Wednesday to allow for a faster storm response.
Nancy Ward, the new director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, issued a warning of flooding, mudslides and power outages. “We expect this to be potentially one of the most challenging and impactful series of storms to make landfall in California over the past five years,” she said.
Preparations were in full swing across the state on Wednesday.In Northern California, several parks is closed, conservationists said they were monitoring fire-damaged redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains as strong winds threatened to knock down trees.In San Francisco, city officials scrambling to protect Enough sandbags for residents. Parts of Santa Cruz County, south of San Francisco, have been ordered to evacuate. In flood-prone San Mateo County, many students were asked to go home early on Wednesday and not return to school on Thursday.
Flood warnings have been issued north of San Francisco and flood warnings have been issued throughout Southern California. The rain is expected to start slowly before becoming heavier throughout Wednesday, with strong winds and thunderstorms. About 60,000 utility customers in California were without power Wednesday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks outages.
“Don’t let your guard down,” the National Weather Service warned.
In one neighborhood in the Bay Area city of Richmond, local officials struggled Wednesday to stop a landslide. Mayor Tom Butt said a resident warned him Tuesday that some cliffs and rocks were falling off the mountain, which was saturated and visibly cracked after days of rain.
Residents nearby were evacuated, and contractors in hazmat suits laid a tarp on the hill Wednesday morning to divert rainwater to a nearby pond.
“Hopefully they will move the plastic bags up to get enough water out of the hill before the landslide gets worse,” Mr Mourinho said. ass said. “We’re doing what we can,” he added.
In Sacramento, homeowners faced more power outages and flooding as forecasts called for up to three inches of rain in an area already flooded by the storm on New Year’s Eve.
Ramona Saunders, 64, a retired government worker, stood outside a hardware store near her Carmichael home, shivering in the pouring rain, looking to buy a flashlight and batteries. She said a pepper tree outside her home had already been blown down in a New Year’s Eve storm, and she feared the maple tree in her front yard would be next.
“I kept thinking, ‘Please don’t let this be a storm,'” she said. “I just don’t want to be on the six o’clock news.”
In San Francisco’s Mission District, sandbags blocked the doors of apartment buildings, coffee shops and restaurants as residents waited for the storm.
Several streets in the low-lying neighborhood were flooded over the weekend. But some stores, including King’s Refrigeration and Appliances, are still open.
The refrigerator, which had been displayed on the sidewalk, began to float away in the standing water Saturday, owner Jose Gomez said. “We had to hold them down so they wouldn’t get swept away by the current,” he said.
But sir. Gomez was hopeful about the coming storm and said he had no plans to reduce his hours. “Maybe it won’t rain that much,” he said.
The storm is expected to bring up to 4 inches of rain and winds of up to 40 mph to California’s interior valleys and gusts of 60 to 80 mph to coastal hills, according to the weather service.
In the mountains, heavy snow is expected. The statewide snowpack was 174 percent of the day’s average, water officials said Tuesday — a silver lining for the storm’s impact on drought-stricken California.
Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada supplies about 30 percent of the state’s water, according to the Department of Water Resources. Snowpacks are vital reservoirs until they melt in the drier, warmer months, delivering freshwater to the state’s rivers and reservoirs.
Heavy rain and snow have brought some relief to drought-stricken California, especially for its nation’s largest agricultural industry. “It’s been a real godsend just to see these storms line up and hit California,” said Don Cameron, whose Terranova Ranch grows produce on 8,500 acres in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
Still, water experts warn that residents should still plan to conserve water no matter how much rain falls in the coming days. They noted that the December 2021 snowfall gave way to the driest January, February and March on record, leaving Californians dealing with mounting warnings and water restrictions throughout the summer.
With more storms on the horizon, there could be more rain in the mountains, which could lead to flooding.
“Now that we have a saturated snow pack, we probably won’t get much more storage from the rain that falls on it,” said Andrew Schwartz, chief scientist and manager of the UC Central Sierra Snow Laboratory. , Berkeley. “That means if we do get rain, we’re likely to see some extra melt. So we’re really just praying it’s going to be like snow.”
The situation underscores California’s water conundrum: The state desperately needs a very wet winter, but any time it’s drenched by major storms, it also risks damage and chaos.
“This is a prime example of the threat of extreme flooding during a prolonged drought, as our climate change causes California to see more fluctuations between wet and dry periods,” Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth said in a statement.
The latest storm is part of a series of atmospheric rivers — passages of moisture from the tropical Pacific Ocean — that meteorologists expect to last until mid-January. “The message is resilience, because this is not a ‘one and done’ storm,” the Weather Service’s Bay Area office said Wednesday morning.
At least five people were killed in an atmospheric river that swept across the West Coast last week. Another storm system swept across California again on Tuesday before sweeping east across the country, spawning intense tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding across the Plains, upper Midwest and parts of the South after snow fell in Utah and Arizona.
The Bureau of Meteorology said the storm was expected to weaken in strength as it moved towards the east coast.Multiple rounds of heavy precipitation expected It hit California on Saturday and again on Monday.
Shawn Hubler reported from Sacramento, Sumia Karamangra from San Francisco and jesse fortin from New York.Reported by julie brown, Derek Bryson Taylor, Jill Cowan, Kristen Hauser, judson jones, Holly Two with john yoon.