California faces more storms, braces for possible flooding

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California was hit by more turbulent weather on Sunday as thunderstorms, snow and damaging winds swept the northern part of the state, preceding another series of storms and raising the potential for street flooding, rising rivers and mudslides already on soils saturated after rainy days.

The National Weather Service warned a “relentless parade of atmospheric fluxes” — storms that are long plumes of moisture that stretch into the Pacific and are capable of dumping prodigious amounts of rain and snow.

In the state capital, more than 60,000 customers were still without power as of Sunday night – out of more than 350,000 – after gusts of 60 mph (97 km/h) threw trees into power lines, the authorities said Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

Joey Kleemann was listening to the howling of the wind and contemplating moving her car just after midnight when she heard a “gigantic, booming, cracking noise” as a giant tree fell on the Sacramento home where she had lived for 25 years lives.

The gusts were strong enough to tear the tree from its roots, dragging the concrete sidewalk with it.

Cracks in Kleemann’s roof caused rain to pour into their dining area throughout the night. She planned to place a tarp over the damaged area in anticipation of another deluge.

“I just had a feeling with the winds. It was scary winds,” she said. “Most of the time I was focused on: It could be so much worse.”

Governor Gavin Newsom said 12 people had died in the past 10 days as a result of the severe weather and he warned this week’s storms could be even more dangerous. He urged people to stay at home.

“Just be careful over the course of the next week, especially the next day or two,” Newsom said during a briefing with California officials that outlined the state’s storm preparations.

On January 8, 2023, a tree fell and ripped up the sidewalk, damaging a home in Sacramento, California.

Kathleen Ronayne via Associated Press

The Sacramento Weather Service office said the region should brace for the latest atmospheric flow to roar onto land late Sunday and early Monday.

“Large-scale power outages, fallen trees and difficult driving conditions will be possible,” the agency said Twitter.

Evacuation warnings have been issued for about 13,000 residents in a flood-prone area in Sonoma County north of San Francisco, where the swollen Russian River is expected to burst its banks in the coming days.

And Sacramento County ordered evacuations for people living around Wilton, a town of about 6,000 people about 20 miles southeast of downtown Sacramento, with warnings of upcoming flooding. The rural area along the Cosumnes River was flooded in a previous storm.

“Residents must leave now before the roads become impassable,” the county said.

The state Department of Transportation warned motorists to stay off mountain roads after closing a section of US 395 in Mono County along the eastern Sierra due to heavy snow, ice and whiteout conditions.

“Given the severity of this storm, Caltrans is asking all drivers to limit unnecessary driving until the storm has peaked,” the department said in a statement.

The wet weather comes after Rainy days in California due to Pacific storms that last week cut thousands of electricity, flooded roads, shattered coastlines and caused at least six deaths.

The first of the latest, heavier storms prompted the weather service to issue a flood warning for much of northern and central California, with 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain expected through Wednesday in the already saturated Sacramento region foothills.

Patchy rain fell in the Los Angeles area over the weekend, while blustery conditions with a potential of up to 20 cm (8 inches) in foothills were expected to return Monday. High surf was expected through Tuesday, with big waves on the west-facing beaches.

Since Dec. 26, San Francisco has received more than 10 inches of rain, while Mammoth Mountain, a popular ski resort in the eastern Sierra, has received nearly 10 feet of snow, according to the National Weather Service reported.

The storms won’t be enough to officially end California’s ongoing drought – but they helped.

State climatologist Michael Anderson said in a news conference late Saturday that officials were closely monitoring Monday’s upcoming storm and another behind it, and keeping tabs on three other systems farther out in the Pacific.

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