Another powerful atmospheric river, the second in less than a week, is flooding roads and knocking out power in Southern California.
2nd atmospheric river in days knocks out power and floods roadsThe Associated Press
· Posted: Feb 05, 2024 11:43 AM EST | Last Updated: 3 hours ago
A person walks along a flooded street in Santa Barbara on Sunday as heavy rain from a long-lasting storm system impacts Southern California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)The second of back-to-back atmospheric rivers took aim at Southern California early Monday, unleashing mudslides, flooding roadways and knocking out power as the soggy state braced for another day of heavy rains.
About 1.4 million people in the Los Angeles area, including the Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills, were under a flash-flood warning Monday morning. Up to 23 centimetres of rain had already fallen in the area, with more expected, according to the U.S. National Weather Service, which called the flash flooding and threat of mudslides “a particularly dangerous situation.”
In Northern California, the storm inundated streets and brought down trees and electrical lines Sunday across the San Francisco Bay Area, where winds topped 96 km/h in some areas. Gusts exceeding 128 km/h were recorded in the mountains.
Just to the south in San Jose, emergency crews pulled occupants out of the windows of a car stranded by floodwaters and rescued people from a homeless encampment alongside a rising river.
A truck is driven through a flooded street during a rainstorm Sunday in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Ethan Swope/The Associated Press)The storm then moved into Southern California, where officials warned of potentially devastating flooding and ordered evacuations for canyons that burned in recent wildfires that are at high risk for mud and debris flows.
“We’ve had flooding, we’ve had gusty winds, we’ve had the whole gamut here,” said Todd Hall, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service near Los Angeles.
“I’ve been doing damage reports all night, so I’ve seen a fair amount of damage, and of people being evacuated from homes due to mudslides,” Hall said.
WATCH | What is an atmospheric river?
What is an atmospheric river?It’s a term that became more widely known after record-setting flooding hit B.C. in November 2021, but as meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe explains, atmospheric rivers are not new to the province.
Classes were cancelled Monday for schools across Santa Barbara County, which was devastated by mudslides caused by powerful storms in 2018.
Farther down the coast, strong winds and heavy rain brought treacherous conditions to the city of Ventura, said Alexis Herrera, who was trying to bail out his floodwater-filled sedan.
“All the freeways are flooded around here,” Herrera said in Spanish. “I don’t know how I’m going to move my car.”
More than 543,000 customers were without electricity statewide on Monday morning, according to poweroutage.us.
Palisades Tahoe, a ski resort about 320 kilometres northeast of San Francisco, said Sunday it was anticipating the heaviest snowfall yet this season, with accumulations of 15 cm per hour for a total of up to 60 cm.
Heavy snow was expected into Monday throughout the Sierra Nevada and motorists were urged to avoid mountain roads.
Much of the state had been drying out from the atmospheric river that blew in last week, causing flooding and dumping welcome snow in mountains. The latest storm, also called a “Pineapple Express” because its plume of moisture stretches back across the Pacific to near Hawaii, arrived offshore in Northern California on Saturday, when most of the state was under some sort of wind, surf or flood watch.
Atmospheric rivers are relatively narrow plumes of moisture that form over an ocean and can produce torrential amounts of rain as they move over land.
Evacuation orders for wildfire burn areasThe weather service issued a rare “hurricane force wind warning” for the Central Coast, with wind gusts of up to 148 km/h possible from the Monterey Peninsula to the northern section of San Luis Obispo County.
A couple walks on the edge of the Los Angeles River, carrying stormwater downstream on Sunday. (Damian Dovarganes/The Associated Press)Evacuation orders and warnings were in effect for mountain and canyon areas of Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Los Angeles County supervisor Lindsay Horvath urged residents near wildfire burn areas of Topanga and Soledad canyons to heed orders to get out ahead of possible mudslides.
“If you have not already left, please gather your family, your pets, your medications and leave immediately,” Horvath said at a Sunday briefing. The county set up shelters where evacuees could spend the night.
State of emergency for 8 countiesGov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services activated its operations centre and positioned personnel and equipment in areas most at risk.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest, said its schools will be open Monday morning, with the exception of Topanga Elementary Charter School and Vinedale College Preparatory Academy.
The weather service forecast up to 20 cm of rainfall across Southern California’s coastal and valley areas, with 35 centimetres possible in the foothills and mountains. Heavy to moderate rain is expected in Southern California until Tuesday.
“The storm will actually sit on top of us for today,” Hall said. “There’s really no relief, unfortunately, because this band is just stalled right over us and it’s going to dump moderate to heavy rain on us all day.”